Morality And The Human Genome Project

1261 words - 5 pages

Basic paper for use in Human Reproduction classes Very interesting angleMorality and the Human Genome ProjectDoes the Human Genome Project affect the moral standards of society?Can the information produced by it become a beneficial asset or a moral evil?For example, in a genetic race or class distinction the use of the X chromosomemarkers can be used for the identification of a persons ethnicity or class(Murphy,34). A seemingly harmless collection of information from theadvancement of the Human Genome Project. But, lets assume this information isused to explore ways to deny entry into countries, determine social class, or evenwho gets preferential treatment. Can the outcome of this information effect themoral standards of a society?The answers to the above and many other questions are relative to theissues facing the Human Genome Project. To better understand these topics acareful dissection of the terminology must be made. Websters Dictionary definesmorality as ethics, upright conduct, conduct or attitude judged from the moralstandpoint. It also defines a moral as concerned with right and wrong and thedistinctions between them. A Genome is 'the total of an individuals geneticmaterial,' including, 'that part of the cell that controls heredity' (Lee,4).Subsequently, 'reasearch and technology efforts aimed at mapping andsequencing large portions or entire genomes are called genome projects'(Congress,4). Genome projects are not a single organizations efforts, but insteada group of organizations working in government and private industry throughout the world. Furthermore, the controversies surrounding the Human GenomeProject can be better explained by the past events leading to the project, thestructure of the project, and the moral discussion of the project.The major events of genetic history are important to the Human GenomeProject because the structure and most of the project deals with genetics.Genetics is the study of the patterns of inheritance of specific traits(Congress,202). The basic beginnings of genetic history lay in the ancienttechniques of selective breeding to yield special characteristics in latergenerations. This was and still is a form of genetic manipulation by 'employingappropriate selection for physical and behavioral traits' (Gert,2). Futheralong,the work of Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, on garden peas established thequantitative discipline of genetics. Mendel's work explained the inheritance oftraits can be stated by factors passed from one generation to the next; a gene.The complete set of genes for an organism is called it's genome (Congress,3).These traits can be explained due to the inheritance of single or multiple genesaffected by factors in the environment (3). Mendel also correctly stated that twocopies of every factor exists and that one factor of inheritance could be dominateover another (Gert,3).The next major events of genetic history involved DNA(deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA, as a part of genes, was discovered...

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