Opinions & Conversation
Recently I was privy to an interesting conversation on my Facebook page where I had posted an article on CNN: “The government has your baby’s DNA“, written by Elizabeth Cohen. The overall premise of this article is the debate on whether or not it’s safe and ethical to store information about a person’s DNA, or not.
At first glance after reading the article, I wondered to myself what really is the issue “problem” with this concept? So at the risk of sounding clueless, I posted the status/comment, “…not sure what the big deal is here” and I was genuine when I posted it. I’m glad I did as it brought in some really great comments.
If you push conspiracy theories aside, and fundamentalist religious practices that may be opposed to it as well, what is the real harm in retaining that data? Here are a couple posts with varying and opposing views from that conversation on Facebook:
“…so from a law sort of standpoint you could be falsely accused of a crime, your DNA coming close to matching that of the assailant. In this day and age of CSI, Bones, NCIS, etc. people think they know what they need to know about DNA. You’d pretty much be hosed. Even if you were eventually found innocent your life would pretty much be a shadow of it’s former self.”
“Big concerns are the potential for abuse by insurance companies or future employers, as well as general privacy issues with this being easy to obtain. Do you really want someone with a little cash (e.g. aforementioned employers, government, tabloid reporters, political opponents, etc) to be able to find out you have Klinefelter’s syndrome, or a predisposition to schizophrenia?”
“So I fall on the side of making genetic testing manditory for every newborn. There are so many genetic issues (David mentioned Klinefelters as an example) that if treated early can help improve the quality of life of the individual who has it. Too many people find out about this stuff later in life and say “that explains it!”. Anyway, I think once the intial screen and notification is done, the DNA should be “separated” from its owners name and used for whatever (except cloning)”
Is The Extreme Polarization of Approach The Only Option?
I think all the points I quoted above from others are completely valid. I think the bigger question here, in my opinion of course, isn’t should we retain the data or not. The bigger question really is: Can we do it in a way that is ethical so that the benefits of this data analysis are yielded by humanity while the DNA data itself is owned, protected and secured by some sort of diverse council or committee of people to keep things objective when it comes to the release of information. Membership of this council or board can have a set of strict prequisites the aid in the protection of this data and it’s proper use. For example those nominated are not allowed to have a strong affiliation with any religious sect, political ties to special interest groups or parties, etc.
I know to some extent I’m oversimplifying it here and that with every well-intentioned person, there are 10 people with bad intentions unfortunately. The dilemma that I have morally is this I guess….why completely avoid something that can have great benefits for those with a predisposition to diseases, syndromes, conditions and other various health problems, out of fear that it will get into the ‘wrong’ hands? Why not try and figure out a way to have an objective process that is well thought out and governed by a globally represented scientific/healthcare community to manage and protect it for good use? Of course bad people do bad shit but if we shut down every innovative and positive idea intended for the better out of fear (like doing business online), then we might not get anywhere.