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Designer Babies May Become A Reality

Publication Date: 
December 11, 2013
The Citizen (South Africa)

Center for Law and the Biosciences fellow Jacob Sherkow comments on the possibility of genetically engineered children in the near future in The Citizen. 

While designer babies – a slang term referring to aspects of genetic engineering – are not yet a reality, with the ever-increasing advancements in genetic technology the probability is not far off.

Recently, a genomics company in California called 23andMe were awarded a patent for a technology that could possibly create babies with selected traits. The idea is that “good” genes would be selected beforehand and the embryos modified to boost the possibility of a child bearing specific cosmetic attributes, intelligence levels or athletic ability.


Based on this possibility the company received a great deal of public backlash from people who viewed the process as unethical. With this in mind, Jacob Sherkow, an expert on biotechnology patents at Stanford University’s law school, says: “Test tube babies were seen as an abomination, but today they are routine and boring. 23andMe’s patent is a shot across the bows that this is what the future is going to look like.”