Color ID Suspended

Science, technology, and life.
March 6 2009 10:02 AM

Color ID Suspended

 

Thanks to the eagle-eyed Center for Genetics and Society , I just learned that the fertility company that was advertising eye-, hair-, and skin-color selection in human embryos (which I've provisionally nicknamed Color ID ) has dropped the plan, at least for now. Here's the full text of the statement released Monday by the Fertility Institutes :

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In response to feedback received related to our plans to introduce preimplantation genetic prediction of eye pigmentation, an internal, self regulatory decision has been made to proceed no further with this project. Though well intended, we remain sensitive to public perception and feel that any benefit the diagnostic studies may offer are far outweighed by the apparent negative societal impacts involved. For those patients with albinism or other ocular pigmentation disorders, we continue to offer preimplantation genetic diagnosis in general but will not be investigating the genetics of pigmentation of any body structures.

It's not clear how long the company's decision "to proceed no further" will last. The statement is titled "Eye and Hair Color Program Suspension."

CGS calls this a mere " postponement " and urges Congress to step in. "Like the financial industry, the fertility industry has shown that it is incapable of regulating itself," the group argues. The Fertility Institutes' announcement of a "self-regulatory decision" to suspend Color ID seems to have been crafted to head off such regulation.

What's really interesting about the statement is the reference to being "sensitive to public perception." I wonder whether that evolving factor—public opinion about aesthetic embryo selection—will determine when the suspension ends.

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right. Follow him on Twitter.