Why design babies when we can sift through ideal embryos instead?

Credit: The Guardian

Brave New World has become the inevitable reference point for all media discussion of new advances in reproductive technology…But the prospect of genetic portraits of IVF embryos paints a rather different picture. If it happens at all, the aim will be not to engineer societies but to attract consumers. Should we allow that?

Besides, there seems to be little need for gene editing in reproduction. It would be a difficult, expensive and uncertain way to achieve what can mostly be achieved already in other ways, particularly by just selecting an embryo that has or lacks the gene in question. “Almost everything you can accomplish by gene editing, you can accomplish by embryo selection,” says bioethicist Henry Greely of Stanford University in California.

Because of unknown health risks and widespread public distrust of gene editing, bioethicist Ronald Green of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire says he does not foresee widespread use of Crispr-Cas9 in the next two decades, even for the prevention of genetic disease….

The simplest and surest way to “design” a baby is not to construct its genome by pick’n’mix gene editing but to produce a huge number of embryos and read their genomes to find the one that most closely matches your desires.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?

  • David Ashton

    Let’s imagine how sorting out embryos will work in practice.