The future is officially now, because a company recently patented their technology to make it possible for parents to choose certain traits and characteristics of their babies. As in, want your baby to have blue eyes? No problem! Want a kid who grows up to be over 5"7"? They've got you covered! Hoping your child will be captain of the football team? Hope no more!
Well, it's kind of like that.
Consumer genomics company 23andMe technically has the technology available to make custom-ordered babies possible, but that's not what they're going to do with it, because, in layman's terms, it's a little too sci-fi-y for most people's taste. The technology is going to be used to help couples get a better idea about the probability that their babies would inherit a variety of traits, including mutations that may lead to certain diseases, like cancer. "The company never pursued the concepts discussed in the patent beyond our Family Traits Inheritance Calculator," 23andMe said in a statement, "Nor do we have any plans to do so."
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But. This is the first patent that's, for lack of a better phrase, a designer baby maker. What's to say another company out there won't coin something similar? Would you want that?
As much of a planner that I am (seriously, huge planner over here), I could never bring myself to use technology like this to get my "dream baby." Because, as cheesy as it sounds, my dream baby is the one that comes to me naturally. Being surprised is part of the fun.
Before I found out the sex of my baby, I thought my daughter was a boy. I was convinced she'd be born bald, and she was born with a full head of dark brown hair. I was positive she'd be around 6 pounds, and she was almost 8. And every day she surprises me with a look, an interest, or something she says -- and it's awesome. She's not a mini-me or a selection of characteristics I find to be admirable or interesting. She's herself. And, to me, that's a million times better than a person I designed.
If given the opportunity, of course I would want my child to have a low risk for diseases -- what parent wouldn't? But something about messing around with genetics gets me a little nervous for other diseases and ailments to come into play since it's so unnatural.
Right now, this isn't something we need to struggle with, because, at this point, 23andMe isn't selling any designer baby makers. And let's hope it stays that way. As Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, said: "It would be so irresponsible of 23andMe to actually offer a product or service based on this patent."
Would you want to hand-pick the traits of your baby?
Image via Gary Robson/Flickr