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The era of designer babies may be closer than most people think, one of Canada’s leading figures in reproductive medicine is warning.

New techniques that test each and every chromosome in human embryos for abnormalities, and screen for hundreds of genetic diseases, are opening the door to a new era in assisted procreation — one that Canadians have not even begun to grapple with, says Dr. Roger Pierson, director of the Reproductive Biology Research Unit at the University of Saskatchewan.

“We desperately need a national think-tank on how we’re going to accept or reject or implement the changes that are coming,” Pierson says.

Instead, we’re still focusing on problems as old as the technology itself, he says. “We’re still worrying about, ‘Do we disclose the identity of sperm donors?’” Pierson says. “We haven’t caught up with the old yet, let alone have the foresight to go into this coming world with the depth that we need to.”

His message comes as a world pioneer in embryo screening is looking to move into the Canadian market.

Dr. Santiago Munne — developer...