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The Ethical Issues of Genetic Testing

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.,

Genetic Engineering and Cryonic Freezing: A Modern Frankenstein?

Genetic Engineering and Cryonic Freezing: A Modern Frankenstein?

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a new being was artificially created using the parts of others. That topic thus examines the ethics of “playing God” and, though written in 1818, it is still a relevant issue today. Genetic engineering and cryogenic freezing are two current technologies related to the theme in the novel of science transcending the limits of what humans can and should do.

Genetic engineering is widely used today. Genetically altered bacteria are used to make human insulin, human growth hormone, and a vaccine for hepatitis B. Two vaccines against AIDS created with genetic engineering have begun clinical trials here in the United States (“The Genetic Revolution” 10), and genetic engineering is used to detect genetic defects in human fetuses (“The Controversy over Genetic Engineering” 18).

Many are now considering using this technology to change humans, such as developing methods that could be used to regenerate or repair faulty organs. It could be also used to find a cure for diseases such as cancer, eventually (Fitzgerald), or to repair genetic defects. Parents could choose the sex and height of their offspring and be able to have more intelligent, more athletic, and better looking children. Also, genetic engineering could also be used to clone humans (Kevles 354), a topic of much discussion of late.

Kevin T. Fitzgerald divided potential scenarios for using cloning technology into three categories: “Producing a clone in order to save the life of an individual who requires a transplant; making available another reproductive option for people who wish to have genetically related children, but face physical or chr…

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…Victor may have succeeded in his goal of creating a new being and breaking death’s hold over humankind, it appears that it will be us that puts forth the final and most acceptable solution.


Begley, Sharon. “Designer Babies.” Newsweek November 9, 1998: 61,2.

“The Controversy over Genetic Engineering.” Awake December 8, 1978: 18-20.

Fitzgerald, Kevin T. “Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?” America March 29, 1998.

. “The Genetic Revolution.” Awake July 22, 1989: 10.

Kevles, Daniel J. and Leroy Hood. “Will the Human Genome Project Lead to Abuses In Genetic Engineering?” Taking Sides. Ed. Thomas A. Easton. Guilford, Connecticut: Dushkin Publishing Group Inc., 1995. 342-357.

Shelley, Mary. “Frankenstein.” Puffin Books, Penguin Group. London, England, 1994. Pages 64-65. “Alcor Life Extension Foundation.” 1998.

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