London: The falling cost of DNA testing means that Britain is on the verge of a new era of eugenics, a leading scientist has claimed.
Professor Armand Leroi, of Imperial College London, said that within five to ten years it will be common for young people to pay for a read-out of their entire genetic code.
The desire to have a healthy baby will then lead them to requesting to see the genetic blueprint of any prospective long-term partner.
Armed with the information, the couple could then use IVF to weed out babies with incurable diseases, a major science conference in Dublin heard.
He added that it is unlikely that people will have the `luxury` of using the technology to design babies by intellect or eye colour and instead the focus will be on stopping genetic diseases.
Professor Leroi said that in some ways eugenics are already here, with tens of thousands of unborn babies with Down`s syndrome and other illnesses being aborted every year.
“These processes are very well established in most European countries,” he said.
“Many of the ethical problems that people raise when they speak of neo-eugenics are nought once you offer gene selection or mate selection as a eugenic tool,” he said.
He said that the cost of genetic sequencing is falling so rapidly that `it is going to become very, very accessible, very, very soon`.
The findings were presented at the Euroscience Open Forum 2012.