Home Overview Press Room Blog Publications For Students about us

About Genetic Selection

Genetic selection procedures are done either on fetuses, through prenatal screening, or on embryos that are outside a woman’s body, through Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).

PGD tests embryos for the presence of genetic sequences linked to a variety of conditions and characteristics. A cell is extracted from an embryo at its eight-cell stage and analyzed. Embryos with the selected characteristics can be implanted in a woman's uterus to develop into a child. The procedure does not appear to affect embryos’ or fetuses’ subsequent development, though more follow-up studies of children born after PGD are needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Arguments Pro & Con

PGD was developed to allow couples at risk of passing on a serious genetic disease to have children not affected by it. Since its introduction in 1990, it has been most widely used to prevent the birth of children with conditions such as Down's syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, Huntington's chorea, and Cooley's anemia.

However, PGD is increasingly being used for other reasons. These include social sex selection, creating “savior siblings” who can provide bone marrow or other transplant tissues to sick older siblings, and selecting against embryos with genes correlated with late-onset and non-fatal conditions. Some clinics have even offered the technique for purely cosmetic traits including eye color, hair color, and skin complexion.

A newer variation of PGD, called Preimplantation Genetic Haplotyping, allows for many more genes to be tested, and for greater accuracy.

Many disability rights advocates, in particular, have been critical of PGD and prenatal screening. They point out that the definition of "disease" is to some extent subjective. Most support women’s right to decide whether or not to have a child at a given time, but are critical of basing this decision on the traits of the particular embryo or fetus.

Gene-edited 'micropigs' to be sold as pets at Chinese instituteby David CyranoskiNature NewsSeptember 29th, 2015The pigs were originally engineered as models for human disease to test expensive drugs in smaller quantities, but the excitement for customizable pets may be serving as a distraction from synthetic biology's more pressing concerns and controversies.
Scientists Find Gene Editing with CRISPR Hard to Resist[quotes Marcy Darnovsky and Pete Shanks]by Cameron ScottHealthlineSeptember 29th, 2015CRISPR, a new technique for editing DNA, is so cheap and easy to use, we may be genetically engineering human embryos before we have time to decide if we should.
Why Some Parents Choose to Have a Deaf Babyby Rich WordsworthMotherboardSeptember 29th, 2015Genetic deafness is one of many conditions that can be screened for using PGD. That’s led to a surprising phenomenon: deaf parents using PGD not to avoid deafness, but to deliberately select for it.
Born that way? ‘Scientific’ racism is creeping back into our thinking. Here’s what to watch out for.by W. Carson Byrd & Matthew W. HugheyWashington PostSeptember 28th, 2015Two recent studies and a review of current events show the media and white communities embracing the idea of racial genetic differences in order to avoid confronting the history of systemic oppression of racialized groups.
Can 23andMe have it all?by Kelly ServickScienceSeptember 25th, 2015Amid 30 recent deals with biotech and pharma companies, 23andMe hired Genentech retiree Richard Scheller who plans to hire 25 scientists in the next year to begin drug development based off the direct-to-consumer genomic database.
New CRISPR Protein Slices through Genomes, Patent Problemsby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewSeptember 25th, 2015With patent rights and Nobel Prize announcements pending, Feng Zhang at the Broad Institute reports new CRISPR gene editing enzyme Cpf1 to compete with the hyped CRISPR-Cas9 system.
What If Tinder Showed Your IQ?by Dalton ConleyNautilusSeptember 24th, 2015In a future society where human genetic engineering is pervasive, humans are like a mono-culture staple crop, and screening embryos for desirable traits is a trade-off governed more by politics than health concerns.
British scientists seek to edit the genes of embryos; bioethicists warn of potential dangers[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Ariana Eunjung ChaWashington PostSeptember 18th, 2015In a "troubling and provocative move," UK researchers have applied to genetically modify human embryos, short-circuiting a nascent international conversation.
Center for Genetics and Society comments on First Application to Pursue Genome Editing Research in Human Embryos[Press statement]September 18th, 2015"If scientists and the regulatory agency in the UK are serious about responsible use of powerful new gene altering technologies, they won't be rushing ahead in ways that could open the door to genetically modified humans."
Stem Cell Experts Support Using CRISPR In Human Embryosby Steph YinPopular ScienceSeptember 10th, 2015Bioethicist Art Caplan responds that "human embryo work is interesting, but to me it should be completely theoretical. We don’t know what we’re doing yet."
Displaying 1-10 of 447  
Next >> 
Last Page » 
« Show Complete List » 


home | overview | blog | publications| about us | donate | newsletter | press room | privacy policy

CGS • 1936 University Ave, Suite 350, Berkeley, CA 94704 • • (p) 1.510.665.7760 • (F) 1.510.665.8760