Designer babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?

Comfortably seated in the fertility clinic with Vivaldi playing softly in the background, you and your partner are brought coffee and a folder. Inside the folder is an embryo menu. Each embryo has a description, something like this:

Embryo 78 – male
• No serious early onset diseases, but a carrier for phenylketonuria (a metabolic malfunction that can cause behavioural and mental disorders. Carriers just have one copy of the gene, so don’t get the condition themselves).
• Higher than average risk of type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
• Lower than average risk of asthma and autism.
• Dark eyes, light brown hair, male pattern baldness.
• 40% chance of coming in the top half in SAT tests.

There are 200 of these embryos to choose from, all made by in vitro fertilisation (IVF) from you and your partner’s eggs and sperm. So, over to you. Which will you choose?

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8th January 2017