The Ethical Issues of Genetic Testing

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Ethical Issues of Genetic Testing The Human Genome Project is the largest scientific endeavor undertaken since the Manhattan Project, and, as with the Manhattan Project, the completion of the Human Genome Project has brought to surface many moral and ethical issues concerning the use of the knowledge gained from the project. Although genetic tests for certain diseases have been available for 15 years (Ridley, 1999), the completion of the Human Genome Project will certainly lead to an exponential increase in the number of genetic tests available. Therefore, before genetic testing becomes a routine part of a visit to a doctor's office, the two main questions at the heart of the controversy surrounding genetic testing must be addressed: When should genetic testing be used? And who should have access to the results of genetic tests? As I intend to show, genetic tests should only be used for treatable diseases, and individuals should have the freedom to decide who has access to their test results. First, let's consider the situations in which genetic testing would be beneficial to patients. Genetic testing for diseases that are preventable or treatable could allow individuals to alter their lifestyles so as to treat the disease or reduce their risk of developing the disease. For instance, the E2 version of the APOE gene, which is found on chromosome 19, has been linked to heart disease (Ridley, 1999). Individuals who have two copies of the E2 gene are particularly sensitive to high-fat and high-cholesterol diets. Therefore, a genetic test to determine whether a person has the high-risk version of the APOE gene could inform a person of future health risks, thereby allowing the person to change his diet to help prev... ... middle of paper ... ...etic tests, I believe that both before and after genetic tests individuals should be required to meet with genetic counselors that help explain the test and interpret the results. Finally, although legislation preventing insurance and employment discrimination based on a person's genetic makeup already exists in many states, I think that additional laws need to be enacted that deny insurance companies and employers access to genetic information without a person's consent. As Matt Ridley (1999) states, a person's genome is his or her "own property," and people should be given complete freedom to decide to whom to disclose their genetic information (p. 269). Works Cited Hubbard, R., &Wald, E. (1999). Exploding the Gene Myth. Boston: Beacon Press. Ridley, M. (1999). Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. New York: HarperCollins.

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