Experts are criticizing a U.S. company's patent for a database that uses DNA testing to reveal to parents traits they may pass on to their future children.
California-based 23andMe claims that its Family Traits Inheritor Calculator can predict children's risk of inheriting certain kinds of diseases as well as characteristics such as height, weight, eye color and even personality, BBC News reported.
The database makes these determinations from saliva samples submitted by potential parents. The company said it offers people "an enjoyable way to dip their toes into genetics."
But critics have called the project "ethically and socially treacherous," BBC News reported.
"It would be highly irresponsible for 23andMe or anyone else to offer a product or service based on this patent," said Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society.
"It amounts to shopping for designer donors in an effort to produce designer babies," he told BBC News. "We believe the patent office made a serious mistake in allowing a patent that includes drop-down menus for which to choose a future child's traits."
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Published: October 2013