I’m sure most of my readers are familiar with the upheaval caused by 23andMe’s patent dubbed “Designer Babies” earlier this fall. Opinions on this were highly divergent with some folks feeling like it couldn’t really be done, so nothing to reasonably worry about, some who couldn’t wait and others who were appalled for various reasons. Today, Genomics Law Report (GLR) published what I feel is a very balanced article about the patent, the technology, the fallout and the future in an article titled “Designing Children.”
“With this post the GLR introduces a new Contributing Writer, Jonathan Webber. Jonathan is a web editor at Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, the law firm that sponsors the GLR. His duties include copy-editing the GLR. That exposure, together with his background in anthropology—he came to RBH with a degree in anthropology and experience as both a field archaeologist and cultural educator for a state park system—has sparked his interest in some of the cultural and ethical issues that genomics raises. In this first post he brings his perspective to bear on the implications of 23andMe’s “designer babies” patent, and we look forward to more of his insight in the future.”
The aspect in this article that surprised me the most was the “ethical parenting” commentary about New York City. I truthfully, had no idea that parents were “training” their children for pre-school entrance exams and more, nor that they were medicating them for the purpose.
As a parent myself, I know that any parent would avail themselves of any technology that would prevent or avert genetic diseases in their children. But what about selecting for high intelligence? That’s understandable too, whether one agrees with it or not, and 13% of parents in a survey said they would select for that, if they could. But what about athletic prowess? Ten percent of the parents said they would select for athletic prowess. Is this now into the frivolous? Or what about a selecting for a blonde haired, blue eyed, slim daughter that the parents are hoping will be a beauty queen or a cheerleader? And of course, we haven’t even touched on the dark side of this in terms of parental motivation. All parents are not good parents nor do they all have their children’s best interests at heart.
Lots of questions and few answers about ethics, social responsibility and what the future holds. I hope you enjoy the article.