March 23, 2009

NS: Fears over 'designer' babies leave children suffering

A California fertility clinic recently withdrew its offer of 'designer' babies after facing a storm of criticism (yes, this is the same fertility clinic I blogged about back in February). An OpEd from New Scientist claims this is symptomatic of a deeper societal problem, namely the misplaced taboo against genetic manipulation:

Such fears are misplaced: IVF-PGD is little use for creating designer babies. You cannot select for traits the parents don't have, and the scope for choosing specific traits is very limited. What IVF-PGD is good for is ensuring children do not end up with disastrous genetic disorders.

Nearly 150 years after Darwin unveiled his theory of evolution, we have yet to grasp one of its most unsettling implications: having diseased children is as natural as having healthy ones. Every new life is a gamble, an experiment with novel gene combinations that could be a brilliant success or a tragic failure.

Thanks to technology, we are no longer entirely at the mercy of this callous process. Rather than regarding this ability with suspicion, we should be celebrating it and encouraging its use. Instead, we continue to allow children be born with terrible diseases because of our collective ignorance and superstition.

Entire article.

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