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13 - High-Quality Children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2021

Eben Kirksey
Affiliation:
Deakin University, Victoria
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Summary

Simply Google “BGI NIFTY” and you will find a slick website from China's premier genomics company offering new options in the quest for quality children. This screening technology has already been used in more than sixty-two countries in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. The NIFTY webpage has a “decision calculator” to see if you should mitigate the risks of your pregnancy. An embedded YouTube video offers a perspective from a young white couple. They talk in British accents about the importance of accuracy, saying that they are willing to pay for the best prenatal care on the market. An older single woman says that this will be her first and perhaps only baby, and she wants to make sure that nothing is wrong.

Previously in China, under the controversial one-child policy, couples were encouraged to make the most of their only shot. Amniocentesis was promoted by government experts as part of the practice of yousheng, which can literally be translated as “eugenics” or “high-quality birth.” But many pregnant mothers resisted amniocentesis since the test itself could produce miscarriage. Yousheng authorities actively encouraged mothers to abort embryos with Down syndrome or other “defects,” mirroring advice given to expectant mothers in Europe and the United States. While couples are now allowed to have two children in China, the State Family Planning Commission continues to promote the abortion of “defective” babies through a national campaign aimed at increasing population quality.

NIFTY is a simple blood test that can pick up Down syndrome and an array of other genetic conditions, including relatively rare ones such as cri du chat syndrome and conditions known by obscure numbers like 1p36 deletion syndrome and 16p12.2-p11.2 duplication syndrome. NIFTY does not involve the same risks as amniocentesis. It uses fragments of fetal DNA from the mother's bloodstream, so there is no chance that the procedure itself can cause miscarriage.

BGI, the company that runs the China National GeneBank, is not the only biotech venture that offers prenatal screening through a simple blood test for the mother. A number of other similar products, like Harmony Prenatal Test and Verifi, are also available in the international marketplace.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Mutant Project
Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans
, pp. 140 - 148
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • High-Quality Children
  • Eben Kirksey, Deakin University, Victoria
  • Book: The Mutant Project
  • Online publication: 18 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529217315.014
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  • High-Quality Children
  • Eben Kirksey, Deakin University, Victoria
  • Book: The Mutant Project
  • Online publication: 18 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529217315.014
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • High-Quality Children
  • Eben Kirksey, Deakin University, Victoria
  • Book: The Mutant Project
  • Online publication: 18 December 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529217315.014
Available formats
×