The Human Fertilisation Authority is holding a public consultation into the ethics of using three people to create one baby.
The technique could be used to prevent debilitating and fatal diseases which are passed down from mother to child.
About one in 200 children are born with faulty mitochondria, tiny power packs which provide energy to every cell in the body. It can lead to muscle weakness, blindness, and heart failure. Some cases can be fatal.
In a process which has been shown to work in the laboratory, an embryo is transplanted into an egg from a donor with healthy mitochondria. There is great potential for preventing ill-health, pain, and suffering for children and heartache for parents. The healthy mitochondria would be passed on to future generations.
It would be unthinkably harsh on afflicted mothers if the technique is declared illegal even with strict controls.
The other side of the coin is the fear, as expressed by organisations such as Human Genetics Alert, that genetic research will become driven by financial greed rather than medical need.
It is not hard to imagine a scenario a few decades from now when a government in cahoots with private medical companies decides to deregulate the genetic engineering business. The doors would be open to a designer baby revolution. Procreation could become a pick'n'mix affair as a foetus is concocted out of a rich soup of DNA. The problem is that, no matter the sophistication of the laboratory baby makers, with all those genes floating about you never know what you're going to get.There may be difficult moments as disappointed parents (single, double or a consortium) queue at the returns counter of the baby boutique:
The wean has got a lovely blue eye from his first mammy but a brown one from the second.
We were hoping for a vegan but she'll no eat anything that doesn't come on a coulis of Stornoway black pudding.
He's a Rangers supporter from his first faither but Celtic from his great-grandfather on his third mum's side. He keeps singing he'd rather be a Billy and a Tim. His second faither is a Jags man and is awfy disappointed.
Forgive that lapse into light-heartedness. It's in my genes. To be serious again, let's use genetics for health not for getting children out of a catalogue.
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