this story about genetic engineering in last weekend's Globe and Mail.
Invitro-fertilization and genetic testing are increasingly used by couples... capable of conceiving naturally to screen out not just catastrophic diseases but other 'undesirable' conditions.
What are those undesirable conditions? One company that screens genes is considering adding the skin condition psoriasis to the list, the article says. The 'undesirables' also include not health conditions, but physical features like short height that don't fit with our North American concept of beauty. We hear about a fertility clinic in Mexico where Canadian and other couples go for IVF -- not because they can't conceive, but because they want to select whether it's a boy or a girl (a 'no-no' in their home country). We hear that on the horizon are DNA microchips that analyze genes that influence height, intelligence, hair, skin and eye colour and athletic ability.
The piece refers to a 2009 survey of 999 people that found that most supported prenatal screening that would result in the abortion of fetuses with serious diseases, along with mental retardation (75 per cent) and blindness (56 per cent). At least 10 per cent of respondents to this New York University School of Medicine survey also favoured improving height and 13 per cent considered it acceptable to screen for intelligence.
The piece begins with this sentence: Humanity has long dreamed of perfection, striving to be faster, stronger and brighter.
Is that your definition of perfection?
To me it sounds a bit like a robot.
What about striving to be deeper, gentler, less judgmental, more kind?
The article notes that "We now have the potential to banish the genes that kill us..."
Isn't that a bit of an overstatement? Isn't the human condition still a fatal one?