Marcy Darnovsky PhD, according to her bio, is Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society, a California-based public interest organization that works for a world in which human genetic and assisted reproductive technologies benefit the common good. She is also a prolific science writer. Her articles have appeared in: The New York Times, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Hill, and National Geographic.
On March 4, in southern California, Dr. Darnovsky gave a TED talk uploaded to YouTube, titled,
Use Gene Editing to Treat Patients, Not Design Babies
A few minutes in, Darnovsky showed slides of white babies on magazine covers. She snarked:
Fertility clinics would begin to market genetic upgrades to parents affluent enough to afford them. For the fertility industry this would be a whole new customer base and for parents a whole new area of peer pressure. The ad copy writes itself. Don’t you want the best for what your child would be? But remember, this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You must act before you get pregnant.
Let’s take a look at how designer babies have been imagined in our culture. [Description of slides]… One thing I hope you’ve noticed is that all these babies have fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes.
She goes on to talk of the “ugly history” of racism and eugenics, finally:
false beliefs that some of us are fitter or better than others. My view… there is no good reason to develop heritable genome editing… unless we want to build a future that’s divided between genetic haves and have not’s.
Preferring babies with lighter skin, one of the “underpinnings of racism”
Darvosky was also quoted in a BYU Daily Universe article, on Feb. 18,
Designer babies: Rogue science or future option?
“We live in such a competitive society with staggering levels of inequality and disparity already. I think it makes people anxious about their children’s place in society,” Darnovsky. “It makes you think. If they can get a leg up for their kid by dropping an extra $100,000 at a fertility clinic, there are people who would jump at that chance.”
“It would be available to people who could afford these genetic upgrades for their own children,” Darnovsky said. “They might think, ‘If I can afford it, why shouldn’t I make my kid taller? Have lighter skin or whatever socially desired characteristic there is?” [Emphasis added]
“To me, that’s a key part of the historical underpinnings of racism. We have these stereotypes that are evidence free but have been very powerful and destructive,” Darnovsky said.
Note – Subspecieist.com has reached out to Dr. Darnovksy. We’ve asked if it is her contention that white parents favoring white babies is racist. To date, we have received no response. (We will of course, update this article if Dr. Darnovsky does indeed respond.)