|UNRAVELING THE GENOME|
March 21, 2000
The completion of the Human Genome Project will represent a groundbreaking scientific and technical achievement. It will also represent a profound ethical challenge. Matt Ridley, author of Genome: The Autobiography Of A Species In 23 Chapters, answers your questions.
Abbey of New York, NY, comments:
The genome project is quite exciting. the possibities for breakthroughs in the medical and pharmacuetical feilds may prove astounding. yet like all human accomplishments, profit,greed and self-aggrandizement can threaten the genome's future usefulness. heck what is nearer the future than our children. they should not be used as test-tube microbes just out of curiousity.
Hamik of Berkeley, CA, comments:
I fear that our diversity is at risk as we unlease the knowledge from future genome research. I look back at history and see that physical and other challenges were often an integral part of what helped contribute toward the making of many heroes and geniuses we now admire. People such as Stephen Hawkings, Jorge Luis Borges, Vincent Van Gough, Helen Keller...so unfortunate their maladies, but how wonderful their legacies.
Then I cringe as the media flocks to cover a recent Web site which auctioned the eggs of Barbie doll models. Will we foolishly strive to eliminate our differences -- even as nature shows us that there is strength in diversity? What a very dull species we would become. Viva la difference!
Reynard of Talala, OK, comments:
It is all right with me if i use the genome information to make an intelligent "selection", based on probabilities of gene combinations. It is not all right for you to manipulate those genes for that selection. Beware the inevitable exception for medical reasons, and its inevitable abuse for society's selfish purposes.
of Oklahoma City, OK, comments:
Without a structure behind the ethical decisions we make now that we have this knowledge, how will we procede? Do we deserve to be able to manipulate our children's abilities and atributes, in the same way we feel a duty toward erradicating genetic disease? Is superior intelligence the fix-it for handling life's circumstances, or does it require also a firm foundation of support and love from our parents, families, friends, neighbors, and social and business institutions? It takes more than juat a keen mind or good looks to succeed in this society as it is now. It is a gross simplification of the true nature of obtaining peace, truth, and quality of life, to reduce these long sought after qualities to our scientific ability to splice my child's genes.
Nickels of Manchester, TN, comments:
what is the hurry? humility should temper any course. i think of the atom bomb and its proliferation and of once gone always gone. the bomb will be with us forever in ways we will not like. please keep ego out. mabey the advances of this generation will be for the generation after next or after that. humankind can wait. i think of the starling and why it is in america and of the frogs and rabbits in australia. these were introduced where they should not have been and are ahead of the good will of those who sent them, forever. the bad guys are smart too and they will this information once it gets to them.
Andreasen of Mesa, AZ, comments:
Every major discovery in its infancy is visited by the polarized fairy godmothers that pronounce it the Pandora's box of the end of the world on the one hand and the pan-miracle to slay the three-headed monster called sickness, poverty, and ignorance on the other. But it is only an infant that needs both understanding and nurture to become a most effective servant to our more complex society. Such is the mapping, interpretation, and use of the Genome.
Driste of Louisville,CO, comments:
Not only should Government and private sector ethical committees have a tighter reign over the laws regarding the future use of such powerful knowledge (i.e.: "creating the perfect child"), but they need to be set in place immediately. Although 40 years seems like such a long time away from now, procedures such as manipulating specific genes may be common place by that time and it would be wise to have laws in place before the fact, rather then after.
Helbling of Indianapolis, IN, comments:
It would be unethical and possibly immoral to change anyones genes if everyone did not have the same opportunity. Further stratafication in the meritocracy we live in would result. It would benefit the whole country if serious deceases like cancer, heart desease, Parkinson's etc. could be erraticated. But everyone needs to have access to these benefits. Even simple cosmetic enhancements would cause problems, but may be able to be treated similar to plastic surgury.
Holley of Syria, VA, comments:
Obviously this technology is going to bring about vast future changes. The Bible prophecy about mans' age being that of a tree (up to 1,000 years for the Bristlecone Pine)is actually in sight! Again obviously mankind has not yet evolved far enough mentally or spiritually (morally?) to be able to handle this power rightly. Therefore we should proceed as slowly as possible and throw as many stumbling blocks as possible in front of scientific, commercial, and military applications! But, of course, we won't! We ignore timely ideas like Jefferson's to phase out slavery and then go to war about it and create a 200 year racist aftermath. Instead of allowing wisdom to lead, we can expect the man of the future to be hung by way of horse genes and all women to have perfect breasts,etc.