Saturday, March 16, 2013
China is engineering genius babies
An article on Vice states that a company in China is currently using genetics to identify and determine intelligence genes in human embryos. The biggest genetic research center in China, BGI Shenzhen, does a lot of plant, animal, and even human genetics. BGI has collected 2000 DNA samples from the world's smartest people to sequence their genome and try and identify alleles that may be used in human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. Any given couple could potentially have several eggs fertilized in the lab with the dad’s sperm and the mom’s eggs. Then you can test multiple embryos and analyze which one’s going to be the smartest. That kid would belong to that couple as if they had it naturally, but it would be the smartest a couple would be able to produce if they had 100 kids. It’s not genetic engineering or adding new genes, it’s the genes that couples already have. Over the course a few generations, a populations IQ could exponentially increase. This process could also be used to determine other traits such as hair or eye color. Things like body shape would be easier to do and personality traits might be a little simpler than intelligence. This type of research does open up the door potentially to genetic engineering in the future. Here is some more information about genome sequencing.