Human Genomes Essay

Submitted By cold12war
Words: 1273
Pages: 6

Human Genomes
Samuel Castilow
Prof. Maddy
Anthropology 2346

On June 26, 2000, former President Bill Clinton was joined with the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to unveil the next biggest advance in science, genome mapping. This is the process of physically being able to map out a human gene to see the chemical base pairs that make up ones DNA, from a physical and functional standpoint. As this huge scientific advancement continued on and it started to become available from anybody to get their genomes read at home, many people started to see some risks with genome researching, whether it was a social, technological or ethical risk.
In 1990, the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ESLI) was founded in order to recognize and be able to address issues that were brought up by the Human Genome Project that could possibly affect individuals, families and society. The ESLI gets about five percent of the Human Genomes Project annual budget to help address any problems that arise. Just like any other research program, gene sequencing raised questions about whether it was reasonable to be spending as much money as they are in a time, when research is in a time of having limited funds. Problems are raised when critics say that the high cost is not being justified. They believe that with all the money that is going towards genome research that some of that money could be going towards smaller research groups that do their research more efficiently. But as time is advancing along, the prices to have a persons genome sequenced have greatly decreased. A company can have someone DNA mapped from prices ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. Many companies believe that they will be able to do it in the future for less that $1,000 and that anytime you need to have a genetic test, you can do it all from your computer.
With the websites like, 23andMe, Decodeme and Navigenics, everyday people are able to get their genomes mapped at a fairly cheap price. These websites allow for a person to go to the website, send in about $99 and they will receive a DNA kit. They will perform the cheek swab, send it back to the company and wait for a couple of weeks for their results. But with the ability of being able to get a disorder diagnosed, there is the problem that there may not be any form of treatment. When this occurs it is seen by many as a way to create more anxiety and frustration in a person’s life. Another risk of genome sequencing is carelessness. When someone receives their results back and sees that they are not at risk for any form of cancer, they will then see themselves as a form of invincible to cancer. Cancer is made up of partly genetics and the other half is from the environment around us. The environment can easily cause many unpredictable changes in a person’s genetic makeup.
There are instances that are on the good side of the argument, where a person has their genomes mapped and see that they are susceptible to a disease later on in life that actually has a cure. In some cases it can even notify a person of a problem and they can go get medical attention before any of the symptoms start to show. Many see it as way to be able to prepare ones self for the worst and make any preparations for the worse case scenario. There is a new form of genome mapping that involves newborns. This process raises the ethical question as the whether a parent should know, not only diseases that their child will be born with, but childhood threats and even if they will have carry the gene that is key for breast cancer. This process started out with just the prick of every baby’s heel, in order to get a drop of blood to see if they have signs of 30 or more rare diseases. With genome mapping though, doctors will be able to see in advance, past those 30 or so rare diseases.
When someone decides to do this research and get their results back they should prepare themselves for many not-so-good outcomes, such as abandonment from…