The Human Genome Project And Its Ethical Essay
, Legal And Social Implications Essay, Research Paper& # 8220 ; & # 8230 ; research on the human genome and the ensuing applications open up huge chances for advancement in bettering the wellness of persons and of world as a whole & # 8230 ; such research should to the full esteem human self-respect, freedom and human rights, every bit good as the prohibition of all signifiers of favoritism based on familial features, & # 8221 ; ( UNESCO Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, July 1997 ) The Human Genome Project ( HGP ) is a coordinated, international research programme, which aims to place and turn up all human cistrons by finding the full sequence of the human genome by the twelvemonth 2005.
Although there are incontestable benefits of this research, it is fraught with hard ethical, legal and societal issues. The possible deductions are hence an indispensable portion of our apprehension of the undertaking. The Human Genome Project & # 180 ; s chief aim is to find the complete & # 8216 ; mention & # 180 ; human genome that will be the footing for farther surveies. This is being achieved utilizing both physical and familial function. Harmonizing to the Genome Data Base ( GDB ) , over 7000 of an estimated 80 000 human cistrons have already been mapped to peculiar chromosomes. The end of physical function is to bring forth a genome map dwelling of about 30 000 markers separated by about 100 kilobases. Each marker will be a sequence-tagged site, a stretch of DNA with a alone and chiseled sequence. Sequencing, that is, the listing of the order of the about three billion base braces that make up the human genome, is the concluding planned measure of the undertaking.
Besides cardinal is the chase of progresss in engineering, including robotics, mechanization, and new methods of identifying and function cistrons, to let large-scale sequencing. The storing and analysing of the huge sums of informations generated by the undertaking are besides a consideration, and requires the development of new database tools and package. The benefits of sequencing the human genome are expected to be tremendous. We will hold information that will immensely increase our cognition of the construction and map of DNA in chromosomes. It is thought that this information will revolutionize future biological research, peculiarly in the Fieldss of medical specialty, cistron testing, cistron cloning and biotechnology. Maping the human genome will take us to understand the implicit in causes of familial diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington & # 180 ; s disease, reaping hook cell anemia and many signifiers of malignant neoplastic disease.
This, together with new clinical engineerings will change medical patterns, with the burden switching from intervention to bar. Development of new categories of cheaper, purer drugs are expected, along with the possible replacing of faulty cistrons through cistron therapy. Scientists will besides be capable of forestalling familial upsets by finding an single & # 8217 ; s sensitivity to a peculiar disease through cistron proving. This information could so be used to assist persons to avoid environmental conditions that may move as triggers.
Progresss in research into DNA mutant are besides expected, since research workers will be able to straight analyze the effects of mutagens on DNA. We will be better able to understand the genetic sciences non merely of ourselves, but besides of animate beings. Gene cloning will let us to bring forth healthier and more productive animate beings, potentially able to bring forth drugs and other utile merchandises for human ingestion. In the hereafter, cloning engineering may be used in worlds to bring forth whole variety meats from individual cells or to raise animate beings with variety meats suited for human organ transplant.
Progresss are besides anticipated in the industries related to biotechnology, for illustration, agribusiness, energy production and environmental killing. These raise controversial issues refering carnal rights and the safety of genetically engineered nutrient for human ingestion. Genetic technology besides provides the chance of us being able to modify bacteriums to bring forth curative merchandises.
Although the possible benefits of sequencing the human genome are huge, and so there are likely to be extra benefits that have non yet been considered, there is besides range for abuse of information and a menace to personal privateness. In 1997, UNESCO published a Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. Although the recommendations were general, it outlined some of import rules. & # 8220 ; Everyone has a right to esteem for their self-respect and for their human rights regardless of their familial features & # 8230 ; that self-respect makes it imperative non to cut down persons to their familial features and to esteem their singularity and diverseness & # 8221 ; [ Article 2 a ) and B ) ] The Declaration supports seeking informed consent of persons, foregrounding the importance of educating both the populace and medical professionals on issues associating to the Human Genome Project. It wholly supports the right of an single to make up one’s mind whether or non to be informed of information associating to their familial profile. It besides states that any benefits from progresss in familial scientific discipline should be made available to everyone. These rules represent what most people consider to be right, nevertheless, they paint a simplistic position of a complex job.
The US Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health have so far allocated between 3 % and 5 % of their entire budget for the Human Genome Project to the probe of Ethical, Legal and Social Issues ( ELSI ) . Surveies are presently concentrated in two chief countries: privateness and confidentiality of familial information, and the development of instruction in genome scientific discipline and ELSI. Other issues raised by the undertaking include equity in the usage of familial information, familial testing, generative issues, clinical issues, commercialization issues and eventually, philosophical deductions. These issues will be discussed in bend. Privacy and confidentiality issues are possibly the primary concern of the Human Genome Project. Who owns familial information and who should command it? Privacy can be defined as the right of an single to make up one’s mind what information others may hold about him.
But this is debatable since information can non ever be kept confidential. Who should hold entree to familial information? If information is managed heedlessly, it could take to favoritism by employers, insurance companies, tribunals, schools, constabularies and many other establishments. A US instance was reported in Newsweek in December 1997 where information that a kid had the familial status known as delicate X syndrome was passed on to his wellness insurance company. Insurance was cancelled for him and his siblings, despite the fact that his siblings had non been diagnosed with the status and the fact that there is no available intervention for delicate X. Accuracy of inform ation is also an issue here, what controls and checks should be in place to ensure that information held on databases is correct? Genetic testing is a minefield of ethical issues since it has a wide variety of applications including carrier screening, prenatal diagnostic screening, presymptomatic testing for assessing risk of adult-onset diseases such as Alzheimer?s disease, conformational diagnosis of a symptomatic individual and forensic testing.
For an individual, knowledge of a defective gene will have possible benefits including preventative treatment, lifestyle changes to delay or reduce symptoms, or, if treatment is not available, the chance to plan the individuals life and prepare for the onset of disease or the deterioration of health. However, it may also have negative effects, for example, it may cause unnecessary stress and unwelcome changes in personal relationships. For example, if an individual knows that he or she will develop Huntington?s disease in later life, does their partner have a right to know now? There is a possibility that genetic testing and gene therapy will create false hope, since many genetic conditions are also contributed to by environmental factors.
In addition to this, there are other questions to consider. For example, should testing be carried out where there is no treatment available? Screening can give people the chance to prepare for the disease, but is this really beneficial? Should treatment be available to individuals with genetic conditions that are non-life threatening, for example, albinism and dwarfism? If so, should the state have to pay for it? One fear is that by making treatment available for such conditions, society will become less tolerant of those who are genetically ‘different’. The argument is therefore that it would be more advantageous for us to devote resources to promoting acceptance instead. Genetic testing also raises reproductive issues concerning the use of genetic information in decision-making.
As a society, we should consider the acceptability of testing unborn infants. Is abortion on the basis of genetic disorder acceptable? If so, how severe must the ‘disorder’ be in order to justify terminating the pregnancy? In some countries, sex discrimination in family planning already a problem, and it is possible that this practice may expand in the future to include unborn infants with ‘undesirable’ genes. If children with genes that may cause disease in adulthood are tested, at what age should they be told the results? In a survey of its members, the UK Genetic Interest Group (GIG) said that prenatal testing for late-onset conditions should not be carried out unless the mother agrees to terminate the pregnancy, since, if born, the infant has not given consent to be tested.
Of increasing concern is the possibility that people fear genetic discrimination and therefore will refuse genetic testing, even if there is a risk to their health. Clinical issues include the problems of educating the public and health care professionals. Results of tests may not be easy to interpret, and individuals may need to have the implications explained to them. This is known as genetic counselling and is very important to maximise the effectiveness of genetic testing. This means that health care professionals need to be trained to provide the public with advice on treatments, preventative measures and, if necessary, counselling. It is likely that the advance of public and professional education will not keep pace with the increase in genetic testing. Another of the potential problems of genetic testing is that, since the production of the tests is a highly profitable industry, manufacturers are likely to market them not only to the medical professions but also to the general public. Demand for tests is likely to grow as technological improvements make them easier to administer, cheaper and more reliable.
There is a risk that the public will not be able to fully understand test results without professional advice. Genetic testing has limitations in the form of laboratory errors due to sample misidentification, or sample contamination, and there is a danger that this may not be taken into consideration when the results are interpreted. Commercialisation issues are concerned with property rights and the accessibility of trade secrets. This could be a particular problem where genetic information is relevant to pharmaceutical or biotechnological firms, since preventing information from becoming widely available could generate considerable revenue. Finally conceptual and philosophical issues raise questions regarding human responsibility, as opposed to concepts of genetic ‘fates’ and beliefs concerning disease and death.
Genetic engineering is particularly controversial. Does anyone have the right to ‘play God’? As researchers locate genes associated with cognitive abilities and behaviour, will we be tempted to ‘improve’ our children? Some people argue that genetic enhancement is simply another form of selective breeding, which is present in nature. However, human genetic engineering cannot be developed without some degree of experimentation on humans. The possibility of germ-line therapy, where changes are made to the genomes of future generations is especially debatable. This may in some respects be beneficial; for example, it will improve the success rate of gene therapy by allowing scientists to remove a defective gene by altering just one cell. However, this kind of treatment could have unpredictable effects that would change the lives of all subsequent generations. Since the individuals are unborn, their consent cannot be obtained. Theoretically, it would be possible to take control of our own evolution and create ‘superhumans?.
According to some scientists, genetic enhancement is an irresistible reality that is only twenty years away. However, there is a risk of unforeseen, unpredictable problems, both scientifically and socially. The results of the Human Genome Project will affect us all, either directly or indirectly. One of the main threats is that it has the potential to provide us with consequences that have not yet been considered. Without time to think about what is ethically sound, this may lead to considerable difficulties. It is generally held that advances that will prevent human suffering are worthwhile, whereas those that will not are questionable.
It can be argued that the advancement of our knowledge concerning the human genome is progressing faster than our ability to regulate its impact. It is clear that widespread education is needed, so that people can formulate and voice opinions on what is ethically and socially acceptable, and so that policy and legislation may be brought into place to govern practices that concern the human genome.