[C]onsumer genomics company 23andMe has developed a system for helping prospective parents choose the traits of their offspring, from disease risk to hair color. Put another way, it’s a designer baby-making system.
The company says it does not intend to use the technology this way…
The patent describes a technology that would take a customer’s preferences for a child’s traits, compute the likely genomic outcomes of combinations between a customer’s sperm or egg and other people’s sex cells, and describe which potential reproductive matches would most likely produce the desired baby.
Among the traits listed in the application as examples of possible choice are: height, weight, hair color, risks of colorectal cancer and congenital heart defects, expected life span, expected lifetime health care costs, and athleticism. The company, which has about 400,000 customers, offers genomic analysis of more than 240 traits altogether, from Alzheimer’s disease risk to breast shape and memory. Additional traits from this longer list could presumably be used the same way.
If children are commodities, then it’s inevitable.
But are we really going to decide that children commodities?
I’ll ‘fess up…I don’t get what the big deal is. Granted, Build-a-Baby technology creeps me out when it comes to gender, because the societal implications are worrisome. But it makes more sense when applied to appearance and disease risk.