Ronald M. Green, professor of Ethics at Dartmouth College, authored an opinions column for The Washington Post over the weekend entitled "Building Baby from the Genes Up" (April 13). While acknowledging the concerns of those leery of eugenic "slippery slopes," Green hails the possibilities of diminishing illness and disabilities via genetic technologies.
From "Building Baby from the Genes Up," by Ronald M. Green:
"Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, our understanding of the genetic bases of human disease and non-disease traits has been growing almost exponentially. The National Institutes of Health has initiated a quest for the "$1,000 genome," a 10-year program to develop machines that could identify all the genetic letters in anyone's genome at low cost (it took more than $3 billion to sequence the first human genome). With this technology, which some believe may be just four or five years away, we could not only scan an individual's -- or embryo's -- genome, we could also rapidly compare thousands of people and pinpoint those DNA sequences or combinations that underlie the variations that contribute to our biological differences.
With knowledge comes power. If we understand the genetic causes of obesity, for example, we can intervene by means of embryo selection to produce a child with a reduced genetic likelihood of getting fat. Eventually, without discarding embryos at all, we could use gene-targeting techniques to tweak fetal DNA sequences. No child would have to face a lifetime of dieting or experience the health and cosmetic problems associated with obesity. The same is true for cognitive problems..."