The genetically perfect Superwoman is pretty quickly going to become a reality to two different streams of advances in science.
Firstly, a US company, Genomic Predictions, says that it can genetically profile embryos to predict IQ, height and disease risk. Since fertility treatment often produces multiple embryos, prospective parents can then pick those with the “best” genes. In fact, parents may soon feel the moral responsibility to choose their best selves. China, apparently, has long been reading the genomes of its best students.
To understand why the Chinese are doing what they are doing (remember, this week a Chinese scientist has announced that he has produced the world’s first genetically edited babies (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/nov/29/work-on-gene-edited-babies-blatant-violation-of-the-law-says-china), we need to realise that each of us has a set of genomes which are slightly different from everyone else’s genomes. This is our genetic fingerprint and the points of difference between my fingerprint and yours are called SNPs. If a distinctive pattern of SNPs shows up repeatedly in the context of a disorder or in the context of high achieving students, you have the basis for gene editing and/or embryo selection.
Robert Plomin of the Institute of Psychiatry in London says that genes are the key drivers of schoolchildren’s exam results. In fact, there are around 1,000 genes which underpin “intelligence”. Plomin says that we are heading into an era of precision education where parents will do everything possible before a child is born to enhance the child’s life chances. In the future parents’ goal “might no longer be giving a child the best start to life, but instead of giving a start in life to the best child.”
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