Should we worry about an era of ‘designer babies?’

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[Editor’s Note: Bonnie Rochman is a science journalist and the author of the new book, The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have Kids – and the Kids We Have.]

Parents jump at the chance to have genetic testing for their kids. But you say many don’t know what they’re getting into.

We don’t know what we’re getting into because genetic counsellors, at least here in the U.S., are not woven into the fabric of the pregnancy-checkup experience. The end result is that parents are nowhere near as informed as they could be.

What do we misunderstand about genetic testing?

Well, first of all, a genetic test can analyze just one gene, or it can refer to something like genome sequencing, where you are scanning all 23,000 genes in a person’s genome. And, in general, there’s a misperception that genes are destiny.

Why shouldn’t we worry about an era of “designer babies”?

I’m not saying it will never be the hot-button issue, because who knows where science will take us. However, currently, we don’t know of anything called the “smart gene” or the “slam dunk gene.” There are multiple genes involved in intelligence or athletic ability or musicality. There’s also the whole matter of epigenetics, turning genes on and off.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Unnatural selection: Babies in the genetic technology age

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia.

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