Genes Could Take Away Your Privacy? : Thoughts on Genetic Engineering

By: Angela Walker

Genetics is the study of genes and variations of living organisms, with these genetics people fear the government do not protect our rights of privacy. Today scientists are researching genetic engineering in humans. This means that scientists are trying to create a next generation of humans by cloning. Over the years the Human Genome Project (HGP) went from sequence analysis which means comparison of sequence to find similarity and to revealed genetic diversity of organism. Not many people like the idea of human cloning. The reason why these people oppose genetic engineering is because the government does not give privacy to people. The fact that people do not feel safe around genetic engineering raises alarms to the government to look into their policy and do something about it. The Declaration on the Human Genome Project came out in 1992 and it brings up the issues on protection of privacy. With this document, it ensures this information will not be used for business purposes.

We are not the only country with a policy surrounding Genetic engineering, as well as different States. A country like Great Britain also have a policy on genetic engineering.  These policies was put in place because in Guatemala, thousands of Guatemalan were exposed to sexual transmitted dieases in the 1946-48 without their consent. The test was to see if penicillin would treat STDs and it end up killing 83 people. President Obama requested the commission chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Biological Issues  to overseas thoroughly fact-finding into specific studies and to protect people from unethical treatment domestically and internationally.

Amy Gutmann, who has a PH.D in political science and is the Commission Chairman of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Biological Issues says potential harm can be done when your medical information get into the wrong hands which goes back to the idea that the government should protect our rights of privacy . Many people do not understand that one can get your DNA in various ways. The fact that our privacy on DNA sequencing is on a thread since people can get our DNA from cigarette, dental floss, razors clippings, gum, toothpicks, and a tube of saliva. But if you are willing to share your intimate information you should not be discriminated by insurance companies because of some medical condition. This information should be confidential.Our DNA is all over the place , so if a medical company like 23andMe and hospital, people should have a say over how much information can be revealed.

In 1951, a woman named Henrietta Lacks was taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Not only did she have cancer, the doctors performed a medical procedure without her knowledge or consent. The cells that were taken from her were passed to George Otto Gey and started the HeLa cell line. The  cells are well known in the medical world but her family has been struggling for health insurance. Having a doctor performing a medical procedure on me without my permission is saying that I  do not have a say and when it get pass on to another doctor without my knowledge shows there is no privacy.

Amy Gutmann is trying to bring awareness about how we have very little privacy and she heard about what happen in Guatemala. The Presidential Commission for the Study of Biological Issues are a group of people who are experts in medicine, science, religions, law, and engineering. This group has been working with President Obama to make sure scientist like James Watson who is the head of National Institute Health(NIH)  which is one of the agencies that is being funded to created a draft of a genome. Amy Gutmann was on CNN talking about the research of penicillin and how this lead to a tragic and also how this is an ethical issues on the U.S part.

I believe they tried to find a better way to medicine but the way they went about was unethical and could lead to a more bigger problem down in the future. Now the president is making an effort to clean up and making sure that our rights are being protected around human engineering. Their motive for doing this is it is morally wrong to do something to a person that can have a life threatening effect on them. They spend approximately $1million on funding the research on genetic engineering. The problem is not the money because we have donors who support the genetic engineering but they don’t realize the risk the people take when they are part taking in these research.

The main ethics problem surrounding genetic engineering is that people fear insurance companies might discriminate based on genes and they won’t get health care. Or employees being refuse a job because they are being discriminate. The argument Amy Gutmann and the Presidential Commission for the Study of Biological Issues are trying to argue is seen small need more people to look into what are the risk people are facing. They are not winning but are spreading the word about the bioethics of human engineering. If the issues keep rising, the public is force to recognize the problem and people are going to go in a panic trying to find a solution to fix the problem, which is why privacy is a problem with bioethics.


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