Thanks to Kevin Wozniak, I just became aware of the next step in genetic engineering -- a step which my novels have used for years. The L.A. Fertility Institutes, run by Dr. Jeff Steinberg, now lets prospective parents choose such traits as eye and hair color for their babies.
For years fertility clinics have scanned fertilized embryos for inherited diseases. Because the procedure of in vitro fertilization is expensive and iffy, several embryos are usually created at the same time. The embryos are then scanned for such diseases as Huntingdon's Chorea and Tay-Sachs, as well as for sex selection (in the United States, there is a slight preference for girls). It makes sense if, out of six embryos, five are free of a potentially crippling disease, to choose and implant one (or more) of those. No one objects to this.
Plenty of people, however, object to the step currently available at this California clinic, which is to select for non-health-related traits. These people are crying "Slippery slope!" and "Designer babies!" and "Eugenics!" -- the latter bearing "master race" overtones. However, I really cannot see what the fuss is about. Everything anyone does can be construed as a slippery slope. Choosing green eyes or red hair does not constitute a master race -- and, like those critics who predicted that sex selection would result in a glut of American boys, predictions are often wrong. Brown eyes and dark hair may be selected for as much as blue-eyed blonds. This procedure will be used by a vanishingly small percentage of people, those couples afflicted with infertility who can afford the clinic.
I remember the fuss over the first "test tube baby," Louise Brown, born in 1978. Editorials protested "playing God" and "creating monsters." Now there are tens of thousands of people born from in vitro fertilization (you may be one of them if you were born after 1978). This is how change happens: Each step provokes screaming, then acceptance seeps slowly in -- until the next step.