Recently I’ve been having an on-and-off discussion with a friend about the bioethical implications of neo-eugenics. I brought up one particular issue as a thought experiment: how about selective abortion of dark-skinned fetuses among South Asians? The light and dark variants of SLC24A5 segregate within the South Asian population at high frequencies, the light variant as high as 85-90% in the northwest decreasing in frequency and approaching 50% in the far south an east. SLC24A5 explains about 1/3 of the South Asian skin color variation, just as it explains 1/3 of the difference between Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans. It has a big effect. If you have two parents who are heterozygous on SLC24A5, a very common occurrence in the south an east of the subcontinent, there is a 25% chance of the “best” and “worst” combinations in any given offspring. Even with the primitive neo-eugenic methods we have today I think it is not implausible that some wealthy wheatish South Asians would start screening based on skin color, especially for females (the markers around HER2-OCA2 are even more informative, but I don’t believe that Europeans as negative toward brown-eyed individuals as South Asians are toward dark-skinned).
But medical technology moves fast. Why go through the expense of pre-implantation screening and in vitro fertilization if one could make cosmetic changes after birth? There’s already a huge market for skin-lightening cremes the world over, as well as hair dyes. Noses can be reshaped, and hair straightened out. How far are we from the science of Black No More? Today we have transgendered individuals whose sexual identity doesn’t fit into the conventional boxes. How about transracial individuals? What if in the near future colored people could turn themselves white through affordable cosmetic surgery?
This all begs the question in regards to costs. I’d be curious as to the opinion with anyone who knows the field well enough to project costs 10-20 years from now.