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In-vitro genetic screening: is the science cringe worthy, or praise worthy?
February 26, 2009 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Designer Babies: For a mere $18,400 you could have your very own sex-screened child. Don't care about the sex? How about screened for hair color, eye color, or cancer tendencies? (via (via))

Hot off the presses:

WSJ: "A Baby, Please. Blond, Freckles -- Hold the Colic"
CNN Video: "Parents choose baby's gender" [I recommend watching this video with a dose of Sigur Ros accompaniment.]
Singularity Hub: "Designer Babies - Like It Or Not, Here They Come"
The Fertility Institutes: "100% PGD Gender Selection Program seen on 60 Minutes"

"PGD" (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) has taken sex selection to the next and most successful level ever (greater than 99.9%). Results from our PGD process far exceed reported results from any and all other processes. The PGD process allows nature to take a more natural course in the fertilization process. Sperm that have been filtered by our standard sperm preparation process are allowed to fertilize the eggs obtained from the female "in vitro" (in our highly specialized fertility laboratory). The embryos resulting from this specialized fertilization process are then screened by our genetics team to determine both their gender and that selected chromosome pairs have resulted in an expected normal genetic pairing outcome (this process is called "aneuploidy" screening). This gender determination process at the very early development level as made famous by our Center, has resulted in the ability to provide sex selection results for the chosen gender far in excess of 99.9%.

In fact, with over 3800 cases, there has been a success rate of 100%.
posted by tybeet (70 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gattaca, anyone?
posted by tybeet at 7:39 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I most certainly do care about the sex.
posted by gman at 7:39 AM on February 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


So if your kid is accident-prone, can they give you backup copies for a few grand more? Even further- can they eliminate testicular torsion in the prototype phase?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:40 AM on February 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


This is awesome. But do the kids have to come with those little crystals embedded in their hands?
posted by Spatch at 7:43 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Love the science, hate the application.
posted by sfts2 at 7:43 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if your kid is accident-prone, can they give you backup copies for a few grand more? Even further- can they eliminate testicular torsion in the prototype phase?

Copies are raised by certified child-specialists until post-adolescence, and then kept in cryogenic stasis until your current model malfunctions.
posted by tybeet at 7:43 AM on February 26, 2009


While there seems to be a slippery slope between screening for certain traits and active genetic augmentation and manipulation, I have a hard time faulting parents for screening for genetic abnormalities.
posted by oddman at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2009


Next up: hover cars and robot maids.
posted by Pants! at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2009


It is, however, not without significant risk. My geneticist (surrogacy is still an option for my family post-loss of our only child and post-hysterectomy) advised extreme caution, explaining that the test itself can cause unanticipated problems that typically outweigh the perceived benefit. Unfortunately I don't have a link for that.

I am interested to really read this, it is, like so many things haunting the blue these days, a very loaded issue for me. On the one hand, there's the "designer baby" can of worms, on the other, there is the hope of preventing tragedy and selecting out disease tendencies.

I am vehemently jealous of anyone who does not have to consider both sides of this debate in order to have children. Sorry, bad day here.
posted by bunnycup at 7:44 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


................"So if your kid is accident-prone, can they give you backup copies for a few grand more? Even further- can they eliminate testicular torsion in the prototype phase?"

......."Copies are raised by certified child-specialists until post-adolescence, and then kept in cryogenic stasis until your current model malfunctions.
"

Shouldn't we raise them in a holodeck in which they experience an exact reproduction of the first child's experiences?
posted by oddman at 7:46 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I enjoy a good ZOMG BRAVE NEW WORLD!! as much as the next person. But compared with how sex selection has been traditionally practiced - i.e. skull, rock, etc. - this seems like a step forward.

And it's not clear to me where the moral line is crossed in screening for cancer as opposed to, say, Tay-Sachs.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:47 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


ObOnlyRichPeopleCanHaveHealthyBabies
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


DU: "ObOnlyRichPeopleCanHaveHealthyBabies"

The rest, Morlocks, live in the dark places out of sight and mind.
posted by stbalbach at 7:51 AM on February 26, 2009


I think the line is somewhere between screening for disease and screening for intelligence, size, and cosmetic traits. Of course the article addresses this, and I love the quote from the clinic in the WSJ link: "Others are frightened by the criticism but we have no problems with it."
posted by sfts2 at 7:52 AM on February 26, 2009


The Microsort technique for choosing the sex of the baby has been in use for a decade. (previously)
posted by euphorb at 7:53 AM on February 26, 2009


Anyone who has ever done IVF or known anyone who has been through it will rapidly realize that this is hype. No one would voluntarily choose IVF over sex. Most people need to go through repeated cycles to have one successful pregnancy.

You are talking weeks of injections, $12,000 per cycle and unknown medical risks associated with repeatedly flooding yourself with hormones.

If you are fertile, you are *not* going to choose this as a means of creating a possible designer baby. If you are infertile, you will be thanking your lucky stars if you get enough healthy embryos of any sort to get pregnant-- not discarding them because they aren't blonde.

Of course, if you are already stuck doing IVF and have extras, you might make the choices this way-- but that's a far cry from a society flooded with designer babies.
posted by Maias at 7:54 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


Copies are raised by certified child-specialists until post-adolescence

Well, in all fairness, this is only what we say in public. In truth, the kids are used as shock troopers in various unpleasant foreign countries. We've made truly great strides in downsizing military hardware for use by preteen soldiers, and I think you'd be impressed by the efficiency of our Tween Terror Squads.

...but don't worry, if your proto-child is killed in action, we replace it free of charge. In addition, all parents of children used in this manner will receive 100 Patriotism Points that can be redeemed immediately upon receipt (no waiting until they're 18!). Finally, let us assure you that the mind-wipes are quite thorough; we've ironed out the kinks, and there will be no further repeats of that...unfortunate issue... in Phoenix.
posted by aramaic at 7:54 AM on February 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Copies are raised by certified child-specialists until post-adolescence, and then kept in cryogenic stasis until your current model malfunctions.

I was kind of hoping for clone slugs.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:54 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


ObOnlyRichPeopleCanHaveHealthyBabies
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on February 26 [+] [!]


Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. But who knows? Maybe increased demand from those parts of the world where they don't want daughters will drive costs down for everyone else.

Bah, who am I kidding. There'll be provinces in Pakistan where this costs $5 and it'll still be $10,000 here in the US.
posted by cimbrog at 7:55 AM on February 26, 2009


That phrase "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should." just keeps rolling around in my head...
posted by Thorzdad at 7:58 AM on February 26, 2009


Maias - I think you are being a bit short-sighted. For working class people, your points are well taken now, but in wealthy society having a taller, blonde (e.g.) designer baby is probably well worth the time and effort and the cash is no problem. Of course the logical extension of this, is that the wealthy are able to now produce babies that are more intelligent, healthier, taller, and with superior athletic ability than the proles. Obviously, the costs of doing this will be reduced over time, so who knows the net effect.
posted by sfts2 at 8:00 AM on February 26, 2009


duncadunk's Venture Bros. reference is duly noted.
posted by zsazsa at 8:04 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


sfts2: No. Believe me, no. While there are an extreme minority of people who prefer IVF/surrogacy for non-medical reasons, the costs, the time, the anxiety - it's all so prohibitive. I so wholly agree with Maias.

Maybe I am biased, with all my current emotional rawness. I admit that, as always.
posted by bunnycup at 8:06 AM on February 26, 2009


I've never been as squicked out by the idea of genetically-manipulated offspring; getting rid of inherited disease and even minor defects (nearsightedness, baldness, doublejointedness) doesn't seem at all controversial to me.

Who’s going to miss baldness, seriously? Or glasses, or hearing aids?

Strictly cosmetic changes are only a concern if you think that someone might be harmed. Ok…so is it harm to give your kid six fingers and a “talent for piano”, Gattaca-style—and if so, why? Because you’re over-determining their destiny for them, violating their individual freedoms in some way? How do you put that into law? What if you want to make them 12 feet tall, making it very difficult for them to fit in rooms or cars or find clothes?

That’s where it gets thorny, not in screening out cancer.
posted by emjaybee at 8:07 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Twelve or fifteen years ago, when I was in high school (oh my god, has it been that long?) this topic was raised in a CAPP (Career and Personal Preparation) class. The teacher made us read a breathless news article about Designer Babies of the Future! and then compiled a list of all possible characteristics a person might want to choose/not choose in a child. Think: musical ability, artistic ability, athletic ability, academic ability, sense of humour, sense of justice, black hair, blonde hair, etc... Our assignment was to take this list and choose and justify which characteristics we would want in a child, although now I think the ultimate goal of the exercise was just to make us think about what sort of traits we value.

I was quite uncomfortable with this assignment, and so did it a little differently. I wrote a fairly extensive essay (you know, for an eighth grader) about why I emphatically would not make these kinds of choices and why I would oppose this sort of technology. I have no idea, now, what reasons I used. I don't think I was religious at the time, so it wouldn't have been religious reasons, but I had just started learning about evolution, so that may have tinged my response. I'd like to think so. I was a pretty bright kid. Anyway, I was quite proud of my assignment and thought that although I hadn't strictly done what she had asked I had still obviously put in enough work and thought to justify a decent mark, and besides - in a way I had done what she had asked: she wanted to know which traits and why and I responded "none, because..."

I failed. She failed me. She gave me a mark of zero on the assignment. That was the first and only time I ever failed anything academic, and I was crushed. The world was not a fair place, I wasn't the brightest star sparkling in the sky, and school was not a place to exercise independent thought - just a place to repeat back what the teacher already told you. I didn't contest the mark because that would require Standing Up to Authority, I just avoided her for the rest of my time at that school.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2009 [14 favorites]


MMMm! Babies...fat and juicy, marinating in their own juices.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2009


How about screening for being an asshole?

How about screening for being an asshole retroactively?
posted by theora55 at 8:11 AM on February 26, 2009


How about screening for being an asshole retroactively?

I'm sitting right here you insensitive clod.
posted by everichon at 8:12 AM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


This is my first comment on Metafilter, so be gentle. :)

I go back and forth on this, frankly. While I recoil at the idea of producing human beings to order, I can see where genetics could be all but miraculous when it comes to fighting the things that have plagued us since forever, like cancer. If they could genetically engineer cancer out of existence, I find I have trouble coming up with any moral reason why they shouldn't. And the "horrors of genetic engineering" are really fictional until they happen. Isn't it possible that this technology could be so worth using that the downsides are overbalanced by the upsides?
posted by Tena at 8:14 AM on February 26, 2009


What's it cost for bat wings and eye lasers?
posted by The Straightener at 8:16 AM on February 26, 2009


Or, y'know, you could just go to cabbagepatchkids.com ...
posted by GatorDavid at 8:17 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can they screen for rhythm?

I have none and would hate to see my offspring suffer as I have.
posted by rhymer at 8:19 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Of course the logical extension of this, is that the wealthy are able to now produce babies that are more intelligent, healthier, taller, and with superior athletic ability than the proles."

The wealthy can and do have the ability to improve their children in ways unattainable by the non-wealthy. They can afford the very best education, the very best diet and health care, the very best of just about everything, really. The net effect is more a crude version of a "designer" baby.
posted by oddman at 8:20 AM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


I want my child screened for amazing muscle definition. By the age of five my child, who I will name Muscles and will every morning draw a pencil thin mustache on, must have the rippling physique of a professional bodybuilder. He must have no neck and biceps like tree trunks. He will eat pancakes for breakfast and bench press lawn mowers. He will be awesome, my perfect child.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:28 AM on February 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


The wealthy can and do have the ability to improve their children in ways unattainable by the non-wealthy. They can afford the very best education, the very best diet and health care, the very best of just about everything, really. The net effect is more a crude version of a "designer" baby.

A very crude version, since this recipe has lead to such gems as George W. Bush and Paris Hilton.
posted by explosion at 8:32 AM on February 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think I heard a commercial for this on the radio in Grand Theft Auto IV.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:33 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


While there seems to be a slippery slope between screening for certain traits and active genetic augmentation and manipulation

I can only hope society at large slides down this slope as rapidly as possible and stops wasting its time nattering around about the sanctity of stem cells and whatnot. It'll be messy at first, like all engineering, but once we get the knack of it we'll wonder why we ever hesitated. Where's the virtue in maintaining maladaptation?
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:38 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


robocop is bleeding, the prototype was Little Hercules, who started really young. Perhaps he's a bit on the thin side, but that's where some "muscle enhancing vitamins" come in.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:47 AM on February 26, 2009


Hmmm. Well, I don't know how this syncs with the idea that IVF babies have an increased risk of having genetic defects. Blonde hair, pale skin, reduction in cancer risk, and a....a cleft palate or worse?

For example, some studies indicate that there may be some abnormal patterns of gene expression associated with IVF and a possible increase in rare but devastating genetic disorders that appear to be directly linked to those unusual gene expression patterns.
posted by anniecat at 8:52 AM on February 26, 2009


I would genetically select for brute strength, resistance to heat and dehydration, slow metabolism, and heavy frame and musculature. Because with every kid being a designer blonde hair fair skinned, lanky twig, they're going to need someone to do their landscaping, plumbing, and general heavy labor. So they'll own the market for hard work, and they'll make a fortune.

Also, when the designer husbands are out at work, who do you think the designer and still bored wives are going to turn to for a bit of fun?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:53 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, but what about the really important questions, like "Feet or pods?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:01 AM on February 26, 2009


Ooh, Singularity Hub. That one's getting added to my reader feeds alongside Accelerating Future, Futurismic and Sentient Developments.

I am reminded of a scifi story I read in one of Gardner Dozois's Years Best anthologies, either the 24th or 25th edition. In it parents raised their children as artificial intelligence constructs in a virtual environment, allowing them to live their entire adolescence in the machine before being downloaded to their real bodies when they came of age, like a reverse mind upload.

The good part is that if your kid misbehaved you just wiped the current build, made some tweaks to the source code, spawn a new copy and let him/her grow up at 1000X normal speed.

Also, Dozois's comps have been excellent year after year.
posted by daHIFI at 9:02 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want my child screened for amazing muscle definition. By the age of five my child, who I will name Muscles and will every morning draw a pencil thin mustache on, must have the rippling physique of a professional bodybuilder. He must have no neck and biceps like tree trunks. He will eat pancakes for breakfast and bench press lawn mowers. He will be awesome, my perfect child.

Well, you could get your own, or you could just rent this one.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:19 AM on February 26, 2009


Damn, but I am slow.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:19 AM on February 26, 2009


I thought it interesting that the WSJ article talked about "negative enhancement" where parents deliberately chose an embryo that had the same disease or ability level as themselves (such as deafness).

I lost my second daughter to a fatal genetic disease. The subsequent stress in the following two pregnancies as the fetuses (feti?) constantly was tested and monitored for the disease was overwhelming and the main reason I have decided to not have any more biological children. I can see how selecting the embryo for hair/eye colour could be reassuring for a couple where either the sperm or egg were donated and the parents were hoping for a close physical match to their own appearance.

If parents want to choose the sex, I do not have as much of an issue. Too many children are punished for being the wrong sex, not to mention the women I know that have had more pregnancies than they originally planned in order to get their missing-gender child.
posted by saucysault at 9:27 AM on February 26, 2009


I could see myself, if I already had two boys or two girls, exploring the idea of selecting for gender. My husband and I might be the only ones able to have kids in our generation for both of our families, so it would be nice to have the full set, right? Affording it, however, especially with two kids who will probably need braces and college educations, seems like a frivolous impossibility.

On the other hand, selecting for gender should be the one option that can be done without IVF. You should be able to get a vial of freshly sorted sperm and get pregnant without all of the expense, medication, and hardship of a round of IVF. Even Microsort seems to sort the sperm and then uses it for IVF, which seems like an unnecessary step if you're fertile.
posted by Alison at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2009


Presupposes that limited human intelligence is the best judge; looks like rationality but ultimately a species of religious view of the universe for my money. Leave it all up to the blind forces before we end up in living an entirely reflexive existence where not only is the environment around us entirely consciously man-made, so are we ourselves. Though perhaps the nightmarish ego-feedback will provoke the singularity.
posted by Abiezer at 9:46 AM on February 26, 2009


As the designer babies trend takes off, I predict that for less affluent people, there will be a Marshalls/TJ Maxx of kidmaking, where you can get the irregulars, you know, a kid that'd be beautiful except for the superfluous ear, or really smart except for the stutter and the seizures. And there'll be a countertrend of the affluent and hip purchasing vintage kids who have features and attributes popular in earlier decades. Of course, they will only do so ironically, so the 'vintage kids' will grow up disgruntled, become serial killers, and we'll all die.
posted by jonmc at 9:52 AM on February 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


................."While there seems to be a slippery slope between screening for certain traits and active genetic augmentation and manipulation

........I can only hope society at large slides down this slope as rapidly as possible and stops wasting its time nattering around about the sanctity of stem cells and whatnot. It'll be messy at first, like all engineering,"


First, what are we supposed to say to the persons that are the result of the messy stage? "Oops, we're really sorry that you have all sorts of genetic defects, but engineering is hard. It sucks to be you but the next generation will be fantastic. You'll enjoy basking in their glow." That's not unethical at all, nope.

Second, whether or not engineering the entire race is a good idea, the more immediate problem is that, as society works now, we'll only be engineering a small percentage of the population. So, we'll actually be creating a two-tiered systems of genetic haves and havenots. This is extremely troubling. Humanity didn't fair too well when we merely thought that different races were biologically superior to others, imagine how well things will turn out when there are real genetic advantages amongst groups of people.
posted by oddman at 9:58 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ja, I zink zis is ver, ver interesting.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:58 AM on February 26, 2009


It'll get interesting when you get a discount on your insurance for life if you're an IVF baby screened for cancer and other major problems before birth.

It'll get more interesting when insurance is free (like in the civilized world), and it costs extra to have a baby that isn't screened.
posted by mullingitover at 10:06 AM on February 26, 2009


So if your kid is accident-prone, can they give you backup copies for a few grand more? Even further- can they eliminate testicular torsion in the prototype phase?

You need those extra copies when you're dealing with Deltas, they are on the slow side and tend to get into trouble.
posted by cotterpin at 10:12 AM on February 26, 2009


Eugenics and narcissism, two great flavours that go together.
posted by doobiedoo at 10:25 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


aramaic, are your Tween Terror Squads those kids I see hanging out down at the lifestyle center? OH WAIT, I MEAN "MALL."
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:34 AM on February 26, 2009


ON the one hand, we have prenatal screening of cancer. On the other hand, we have parents who prefer to have their children get cancer rather than contemplate the idea that they may someday have sex, or preventtheir children from being vaccinated due to fraud and sheer ignorance.

So it's a weird, contradictory world out there. Fortunately, based on the above, there's no evidence that the well off will have a monopoly on intelligence, no matter what they do.
posted by happyroach at 10:36 AM on February 26, 2009


I failed. She failed me. She gave me a mark of zero on the assignment. That was the first and only time I ever failed anything academic, and I was crushed. The world was not a fair place, I wasn't the brightest star sparkling in the sky, and school was not a place to exercise independent thought - just a place to repeat back what the teacher already told you. I didn't contest the mark because that would require Standing Up to Authority, I just avoided her for the rest of my time at that school.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:10 AM


The genetically selected version of you wouldn't have had to suffer with this troubling free will problem!
posted by orme at 10:47 AM on February 26, 2009


I think this would most certainly move humanity towards two different subspecies. Unless this service was made available to everyone regardless of income, the wealthy would engineer generation after generation of super-genius powerhouses, eventually leading to the point where being born into wealth = being born into great intelligence, strength and attractiveness. Seeing as how the wealthy tend to like to protect their positions, I can't see how this wouldn't lead to some kind of aristocrat race.

On the other hand, hey - winged people!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2009


Dad: Hey Kid! Go get your daddy a beer.
Kid: You're not my daddy! ( The kid leaves the room and pulls out a test tube. He hugs it)

The End?
posted by doctorschlock at 11:10 AM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


How is babby formed screened?
posted by tommasz at 11:20 AM on February 26, 2009


Dad: Hey Kid! Go get your daddy a beer.
Kid: You're not my daddy! ( The kid leaves the room and pulls out a test tube. He hugs it)


Shut the hell up and fill that test tube with beer, brat!
posted by jonmc at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2009


You know, al the great moves towards equality have originated with smart educated comparatively powerful people. So more smart educated people will always mean social progress. It's only time before our genetically modified overlords fund all research into genetic enhancements and let national health services provide said enhancements.

You now see why all us sane lefties oppose international government, communism, etc. If any country tries restricting genetic enhancements to the rich & powerful, other less restrictive countries will obliterate them after two generations.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2009


I wasn't the brightest star sparkling in the sky, and school was not a place to exercise independent thought - just a place to repeat back what the teacher already told you. I didn't contest the mark because that would require Standing Up to Authority, I just avoided her for the rest of my time at that school.

arcticwoman

I am wondering - so very gently - whether that 8th grade essay was quite the objective triumph you thought it was?

Of course it's perfectly possible the teacher had a problem with dissent - and an uncommonly sadistic streak. The way you recounted the story, though, reminded me of a similarly flattening "fail" I got for writing a turgid, socially conscious 50 stanza ballad in the imagined voice of a child who had been found guilty of murdering another kid at school.

(We were supposed to write a sonnet inspired by something we'd read in the paper).
Being the Eng Lit "star" of the class, I waited for the usual praise.
Instead, my masterpiece was returned with a zero mark - and some withering criticism about failing to write convincingly, getting the facts of the news report wrong, ignoring the parameters of the assignment - and making my teacher laugh -in the wrong way.

(I still have that atrocious poem - and the cruel, but accurate comments).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:19 PM on February 26, 2009


This is reminding me of Nancy Kress's Hugo and Nebula award-winning novella (later expanded into a trilogy, which I haven't read) Beggars in Spain. The premise involves designer babies who, among other advantages, have no need for sleep.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:19 PM on February 26, 2009


Don't worry about the rich and the poor. This babies will be very sexy when they grow up and whatever traits are selected for will be transmitted to the next generation. Rich people tend to have less legitimate children, but in a few generations the world will be full of super-bastards.

Unless some rich bastard starts suing families for some kind of genetic infringement and demand the destruction of all children that carry his precious and expensive genes.

What would be very scary (and entirely possible, just read on the co-evolution of sperm and eggs) is that when this goes beyond screening and into active modification, the rich people who can afford the procedure might decide to make their eggs and sperms incompatible with those of the unwashed masses. Self induced speciation of the human race along money lines, that sounds fun.
posted by dirty lies at 12:30 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Just because we can, doesn't mean we should."

Heaven forbid future generations are resistant to cancer. This is just the 21st century's version of vaccine fears and other neo-luddite mumbo jumbo.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:27 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am wondering - so very gently - whether that 8th grade essay was quite the objective triumph you thought it was?

That's a completely valid question, but she told me that the mark was because I didn't complete the assignment. :(
posted by arcticwoman at 3:06 PM on February 26, 2009


Cue the Captain Kirk speech about how man was meant to struggle, etc.
posted by tkchrist at 4:37 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can you imagine being a designer kid who didn't live up to expectations? What if you decide to dye your blonde hair black and wear brown contacts to color your blue eyes? Or fail out of school, or get cancer anyway, or just fail in the way that normal kids fail every day. I can see the parents being even more histrionic about it than parents that didn't select everything about their children. And what if there are traits linked in ways we don't anticipate? What if genes that protect against cancer are linked to genes that cause mental illness? It's not like they'd figure it out before the first generation came of age...
posted by marble at 4:45 PM on February 26, 2009


dirty lies: Greg Egan had that in a couple of his short stories.
Rich people could have a procedure to completely change their DNA, use something different from ATCG. Then they would be immune from all viruses and only able to breed with each other.
posted by Iax at 4:56 PM on February 26, 2009



Maias - I think you are being a bit short-sighted. For working class people, your points are well taken now, but in wealthy society having a taller, blonde (e.g.) designer baby is probably well worth the time and effort and the cash is no problem. Of course the logical extension of this, is that the wealthy are able to now produce babies that are more intelligent, healthier, taller, and with superior athletic ability than the proles. Obviously, the costs of doing this will be reduced over time, so who knows the net effect.


sfts2, Have you done IVF? Do you know anyone who has? Are you female? I don't think you'd be writing that if you had real experience with it. Rich women still suffer through it-- the cost is far more than financial. It's pretty horrible for the vast majority of people-- and by contrast, sex is generally fun. Even now, most pregnancies are unplanned.

Given that-- and given people's own bias towards thinking whatever baby they have is the best because it has their genes, period-- I really don't think we have to worry much about this with existing technology. If someone makes IVF that isn't arduous and birth control that people will genuinely use consistently, then we can worry.
posted by Maias at 1:26 PM on February 27, 2009


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