The Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project

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The Human Genome Project
The human genome project is a worldwide research effort with the goal of analyzing the structure of human DNA and determining the location of the estimated 100,000 human genes. The DNA of a set of model organisms is studied to provide the information necessary for understanding the functioning of the human genome. The information gathered by the human genome project is expected to be the source book for biomedical science in the 2lst Century and is of great value to the field of medicine. The scientific products of the human genome project will include a resource of genomic maps and DNA sequence information that will provide detailed information about the structure, organization, and characteristics of human DNA, information that constitutes the basic set of inherited “instructions” for the development and functioning of a human being. There are many benefits that can be gained from the human genome project; however, the project brings about much controversy in areas of employment, insurance, and social issues. Is genetic engineering a leap into the future or a leap toward destruction?           The issues surrounding this project need to be scrutinized not only by the scientists working on the project, but also by lawmakers and the public in general. One of the major facts that people need to understand is the appearance of a gene does not predict the way a trait will be expressed physically. Looking into the future, lots of situations can arise from the availability of genetic testing. Some people may want to know if they are carriers of certain genes in order to make informed decisions about such personal matters as lifestyle, marriage, and childbearing. On the other hand, some may prefer to live their lives without knowing. Having such specific knowledge about our health, there is going to be many people who want to use the testing for the benefit of their companies and even society. A new understanding of parts of the human genome may result in discrimination based on a person’s genetic predisposition. Also, insurance companies may require people to submit to a genetic test before they could be covered. If the person applying is found to be unfit, it could go on his or her insurance “medical report”, such as a “credit report”, which would blacklist that person from ever getting coverage. Never mind the fact that genetic screening opens up the possibility of identifying a class of people that may become regarded as socially undesirable.

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Lee, Thomas F., The Human Genome Project: Cracking the Genetic Code of Life, Plenum Press: New York, 1991.
Human Genome Project Information, 2002

Human Genome Project, Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2000,
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