Free of genetic disorders, with the desired gender and eye color - the bespoke baby is already a reality. In vitro fertilization and the potential creation of artificial egg and sperm cells are posing a fundamental challenge to human reproduction - and calling the real worth of human beings into question. What are the moral, ethical and legal ramifications?
In 1978 the world was shocked by the birth of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby. Four decades later, the once controversial technique of in vitro fertilization has long become normality. But genetic science has made so many advances in recent years that there are now many more ways of tweaking nature: genetic health, gender, eye color - the bespoke baby is no far-off futuristic vision. Would-be parents from all over the world can travel to the United States, where - for a suitable fee - they can order their dream child. But it's not only in America that technological progress seems to be unstoppable. In 2015, the British parliament gave the green light to what's called three-parent babies. This technique replaces genetic material from mothers with defective mitochondrial DNA with DNA from a donor. And the discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing has opened up hitherto unthinkable possibilities; with this technology the genes of an embryo can be altered before it is implanted in the mother's womb. This may be reminiscent of science fiction films like "Gattaca," but it was actually carried out on a human embryo in 2016. These revolutionary new techniques raise hopes of correcting genetic defects and overcoming hereditary disorders. But they also raise uncomfortable questions: What makes a human being worthy of life? What does it mean - morally, ethically and legally - when ever more efficient methods bring us closer to eugenics? This highly profitable side of the baby business in a growing global market shows that answers to these questions need to be found - and fast