What if you could screen embryos for diseases before they became babies? What if you had the power to choose the traits your baby would have? Would you use it?
In April 2008, Dartmouth College ethics professor Ronald M. Green's essay, "Building Baby from the Genes Up," was published in the Washington Post. Green presented his case in support of the genetic engineering of embryos, arguing that tinkering with genes could eliminate disease or confer desirable features onto our future progeny. "Why not improve our genome?" he asked. Two days later, Richard Hayes, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society, rebutted, warning of a "neo-eugenic future" and "the danger of genetic misuse."
These practically polar opposite opinions are two sides of a debate taking place around the world. The controversy revolves around what scientists are calling reprogenetics: the combined use of reproductive and genetic technologies to select, and someday even genetically modify, embryos before implantation—not for health reasons, but for the sake of "improvement."
Reprogenetics and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
Reprogenetics is an offshoot of an established medical...