While "we just don't know enough" when it comes to gene editing to create designer babies, bioethicist Ronald Green of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire believes "it is unavoidably in our future." If anything, considering the risks of not knowing what "serious errors" could happen from editing our genome, embryo selection may a more viable alternative for what that's worth.
There are thousands of mostly rare and nasty genetic diseases that can be pinpointed to a specific gene mutation. Most more common diseases or medical predispositions – for example, diabetes, heart disease or certain types of cancer – are linked to several or even many genes, can’t be predicted with any certainty, and depend also on environmental factors such as diet.
When it comes to more complex things like personality and intelligence, we know very little. Even if they are strongly inheritable – it’s estimated that up to 80% of intelligence, as measured by IQ, is inherited – we don’t know much at all about which genes are involved, and not for want of looking.
At best, Greely says, PGD might tell a prospective parent things like “there’s a 60% chance of this child getting in the top half at school, or a 13% chance of being in the top 10%”. That’s not much use.
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