Genetic Testing and Who Will It Benefit?

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DNA is the code of life. More specifically, the codes to OUR lives. Recently, great strides have been made in the field of Genetics. The knowledge gained has empowered us with the ability to literally make ourselves a better species. And what we don’t understand yet, we will learn.

The saying, “with great power comes great responsibility,” never applied more to the outcome of the human race than it does today. All around the world nations are coming into their own, acts of kindness abound, and there is hope of a better tomorrow. However, hatred, corruption, pride, and greed have managed to hang in there; and if we have learned nothing from them they will surely overtake us. Our genetic code is no exception. If we cannot stop the unfair treatment of people based solely on who they are, how can we expect fair and equal treatment based on blood, which is by the way, who we are?

“Give us your blood!,” geneticists cry. They always need more. More samples. More to study. But what happens when one day, they finally have samples of the blood of everyone? The story goes the blood will be used for breakthrough genetically tailored medicines. I wholly believe this. And it’s such an uplifting idea. Lessons learned show contrary, and insist caution, guarantees, and oversight from ordinary citizens are in order.

The past has taught us the lives of some are not held in such high regards as the lives of others. Will this somehow change once we have developed genetically based medicine for everyone? Or will the prices of such medicine be raised so high that only some will be able to afford it? And if so, is this right, seeing as how all people would have contributed to the development of these medicines with their very blood?

Worse yet, what if the government (any and all) decide certain genes are harmful and insist on gene deletions from embryos, so that a child being born is not born with the exact DNA given to them by their parents? Indeed there is arguably strong evidence children would benefit from certain genes being replaced, such as genes for fatal diseases. But who defines harmful? Does it begin and end only at the genes for fatal diseases? Or will this one day lead to things such as the entire deletion of genes which make us each unique or enable us to make difficult choices, and will we have a choice in this decision? What if genes for aggression were found and removed? Because aggression is dangerous right? But what if in lacking the genes for aggression, we are no longer capable of self defense? Surely, if everyone had their aggressive genes removed before birth we should all be safe. Except, humans are not the only thing we must defend ourselves against. And it must be expected that there would be holdouts, people unaccounted for, and very possibly people who will get around it somehow.

Genetic testing and the information gained from it will change the world. It is beyond doubt a good thing. Where we take it and what we do with it is where the problem lies. It is time for the world to come together and ensure that people everywhere will benefit from it and not be left behind. Rules must be set in place for all uses of genetic data, rules which are beneficial and neither a hindrance or oppressive; all peoples should have representation and a say in their DNA and what is done with it; the medical advances made from the knowledge of our blood must be equally accessible to all; and no one should be forced into gene alteration against their wishes.

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