Is the Human Genome all that is craked up to be
Scientists throughout the world have been working on a long-term project that will change the decisions people make about their lives and lifestyles, the way doctors practice medicine, how scientists study biology, and the way we think about ourselves as individuals. This project is called the Human Genome Project, and its main goal is to determine and configure the chemical sequence of DNA in every human being. This project has been going on for the past 12 years but scientists have not made that much progress. Currently, the Human Genome Project has only discovered 100 different DNA genes and is using them for diagnosis, but an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 still remain unfound (Bertucco 1). Many of these genes already found are being used to find cures for diseases, but some are even used for studying existing humans and finding astonishing information about them that was never known before. This study seems great, but many issues have risen due to the fact that this study violates human individuality. However, when looking past this concept, the effort will be well worth it. Our society will be able to understand many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Looking back to the late 70’s when the Human Genome Project was first talked about, our society did not have as many laws and beliefs that we do today. Considering this, it still took awhile for the project to get funding, but by 1989 the project was up and running and already causing controversy. Many reasons could account for this, for example, violation of the law, the amount of funding that is necessary to continue this project and of course the actual information the DNA genes tell us about a human being. These issues got so out of control so the Human Genome Project had to create a group called the ELSI (Ethical, Legal and Social Issues) to protect them from all the drama that did or was going to arise.
When talking about the laws, this project not only violates one, but many. The privacy and confidentiality of genetic information, including questions of ownership and control of genetic information, questions of the fair use of genetic information, for example insurance and employment, and of course genetic discrimination. None of these concepts are real laws in our society alone, but they do affiliate themselves to at least a part in one of our existing laws.
As far as funding goes, the project is so costly that the numbers are outrageous. The project requires doing research on 100% of the DNA or genes and only 5% is actually used. That means 95% of the research and money goes to waste. Just considering this one fact, our society is wasting valuable money that could be used for better things like space travel or educational purposes. Are the benefits of this project enough to account for such an extreme loss? Many would agree, but many would not.
Now that we have considered two of the three factors, it’s hard to believe that this project is still up and running. The third major concept deals with the overall focus of the project. Is it to find the cures for diseases or basically understand each and every human being. The possibilities are endless if you were to ask professor…..from the……..Finding cures for disease and understand each human doesn’t seem like that big of deal, but it really does affect each and every one of us in a different way. Personally, I think this study is very disturbing. If I was to find out I had a disease that I couldn’t cure, it might hurt or disrupt my need to live. Many people’s emotions or well-beings could be ruined. Many things like this in our society have been kept a secret for a reason and shouldn’t be revealed.
“Genetics research may result in the discovery of information that is powerful and potentially predictive. In addition, such information may have familial implications. While in some cases such information may be beneficial to research subjects and their families, there is also potential for misinterpretation or misuse.”(……). Special concerns have arisen about the process of informed consent, particularly when the risks and benefits of research participation may not be fully known. Concerns have also arisen about how best to prevent the preliminary or premature release of research results and to protect the privacy of individuals who choose to participate in genetics research. Examination of existing research guidelines and recommendations over the past five years has revealed that current guidance and protections need to be enhanced in order to deal with the special considerations related to genetics research.
Now that we have looked at the negative side to the Human Genome Project, why is the project and its problem still up and running? The main reason is because of the remarkable amount of disease research that scientists have been doing. Finding a cure for aids or cancer is something our society will risk everything for. From money, to ethical beliefs, all the way down to a person’s emotional disruption. The reason for this is because a cure for just one of these diseases could save billions and billions of lives. However, is this alone strong enough to keep this study alive? This main point is something our society really needs to consider.
As you can see there are many advantages as well as disadvantages to continuing with this study. “It’s not worth it,” states James Watson just before he was asked to resign from the National Institution of Health. However, this is just one persuading opinion. Everyday different publications are made about the Human Genome Project, but deciding and taking action on one is not that easy. What’s right, what’s wrong? This is the question everyone is asking. Considering everything that was said in the last 4 pages, from disease studies all the way to ruining a human’s individuality, what do you think should be done?