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Should we be allowed to choose our kids' genes?

Genetic engineering advancements mean that we may soon be able to choose our children's genes. To what to degree is it ethical? And does it really matter?
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Written by Andrew Nusca, Former editor on

Megan Erickson ponders on BigThink.com whether genetic screening should be required, and if giving parents a choice in genes is ethical.

The background: advances in genetic engineering have allowed us to determine what kind of characteristics newborns will have. That's good news for folks looking to avoid familial potholes such as Huntington's disease, Tay-Sachs or Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but it's decidedly dicier ethical territory for folks hunting for that elusive redhead gene at the expense of another brown haired, brown-eyed girl.

Or is it?

Erickson writes:

The decision of whether to opt for enhancements--as the technology to select a child’s hair color, eye color, or even aptitude for certain skills becomes available--should be left to prospective parents, who [Mt. Sinai bioethicist Jacob] Appel says make the same choices (albeit more subtly) outside the test tube. “We allow people to date tall, handsome men; we allow people to raise their children in all sorts of ways. The idea that everyone is going to want a child with blue eyes and blond hair, that diversity will decrease as a result of this is wrong. My strong guess is that people will not want to have that kind of ‘ideal’ child, but to have children who look and act like them.”

This issue is hardly new; Time ran a feature about it more than a decade ago. But the reality is ever closer, and we still have very little policy to accommodate it.

But then there's the big picture question: are we messing with genetic diversity, or is it a fool's errand to think so? We may be able to move the needle away from one issue, but we'll inevitably face another. Right?

Why Genetic Screening Should Be Mandatory [Big Think]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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