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No Designer Kids

Contrary to what language in its trait prediction test patent might suggest, consumer genetics firm 23andMe says it has no plans to use the test to screen potential babies for traits such as eye color, disease risk, height, and gender, Nature's News Blog reports.

The patent in question, awarded last week, is for a method that uses its Family Traits Inheritance calculator to predict what traits a baby might inherit from its biological parents. According to the blog post, when 23andMe filed the patent paperwork more than five years ago, the company believed that the tool could also be used in fertility clinics to screen sperm and ova prior to in vitro fertilization, and it included language in the application ostensibly to cover that eventuality.

"But much has evolved in that time, including 23andMe’s strategic focus," says a post at the 23andMe blog. "The company never pursued the concepts discussed in the patent beyond our Family Traits Inheritance Calculator, nor do we have any plans to do so.”