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The ethical concerns about the ability to obtain this information revolve around the possibility of discrimination against people who have less than superior gene pools and that those people will be shunned from society, or worse yet, rounded up and locked up before they have ever done anything wrong.
In addition there is also the concern that the wealthy will be able to genetically order perfect children with the highest IQ's the healthiest DNA and the best looks, while those who are not wealthy will have children the old fashioned way and there will be an eventual class distinction between the children who have been genetically ordered and those who are a toss of the dice.
The other ethical issue involves a perceived right to privacy. The recent health care privacy act has worked to further protect a person's right to decide who has information about him and why it will be shared. If the HGP completes its goal there is a chance that people will lose that right to privacy as leaks and hacking ability extracts it for a fee.
The topic and concerns regarding the HGP is a human rights issue because once the mapping is complete it will detail all of mankind and there will be no going back in time to undue the abilities that the HGP will provide.
The question of ethics can also be held against several ethic theories including the Deontological Ethical Theory that in short states as long as one is following the basic preset principles or elements of that theory one is being ethical. In the case of HGP as long as nurses and other medical professionals only use the HGP information to provide the best care possible both during crisis and as a preventative measure then they are behaving ethically.
Immanuel Kant believed in the basic good of people when he theorized that there is a sense in each person that will cause them for the most part to choose the ethical path.
When and if the time comes that some decide to use HGP information in an unethical genetic engineering manner the Theory of Justice will prevail. The Theory of Justice believes that each and every person is entitled to identical rights and privacies. This theory is so strongly supported by the free world that there have been many wars to ensure its implementation and maintenance.
If and when the time comes that a few unethical minds decide to take advantage of HGP and its abilities the world will block that effort and demand the theory of justice be followed, including the implementation of legislation to insure that it is.
Though I understand the concerns of those who are against the project, I believe that the benefits of it will outweigh any possible risks.
A random survey of recent newspaper headlines gives some cause for concern. "Eggs May Be Fertilized Without Sperm," "Britain's First 'Designer Baby' to Be Born Soon" and "Fertility Ethics Authority Approves Sex Selection" are just a sampling of recent stories that tell of the accelerating conjunction of genetics and the fertility clinic, the site where the initial battle over the human genomic future will be waged (Brave, 2001). "
However the HGP has a much larger area of impact than the ability to create designer babies. It will be the key to disease and mental illness that mankind has hoped for throughout history.
The potential is there for mankind to use the information to manipulate its own evolution but I don't think it will happen. I read a survey once that asked thousands of people if they could look into the future would they? The vast majority of respondents said that they would not as they had no desire to know ahead of time what type of pain and suffering they might endure as it would take away their hope.
I believe the same concept applies here. I think that the ability to map disease can only have a positive impact on mankind as it will allow medical personnel to begin working on cures.
I believe as Kant does in the ultimate good of people and the belief that everyone has an inner sense that guides them to live ethically for the most part.
I believe that mankind has come far enough in its evolutionary process that it will develop guidelines and laws that will protect the rights of people and their privacy while at the same time allowing us to utilize the benefits.
Even now, however, we do not understand how all the different pieces of information are stored in the genome. We have merely begun to describe them and decode how a small percentage of the individual genes work, but it remains to be seen how they all are used and what traits they produce (Brave, 2001)."
What this says to me is that we have a long way to go before we need to worry about designer babies, and the other ethical problems that may arise in time.
The advances that this mapping will provide will help the medical community deliver the best care in history to patients and that will mean a significant increase in job satisfaction across the board for the medical profession.
The HGP will not create unethical issues in the field of genetic engineering, if anything it will create the desire to be more ethical than ever before as mankind steps across the threshold of ability and moves into a new frontier.
Bailey, Ronald (2001) Does Genetic Engineering Endanger Human Freedom?
The American Enterprise
Brave, Ralph (2001) Governing the Genome: WHICH GENETIC MODIFICATIONS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED AND WHICH OUTLAWED? DEEP DIVISIONS EXIST EVEN AMONG ETHICAL SCIENTISTS AND INFORMED ACTIVISTS.
Elliott, E. Donald (2001) The genome and the law: should increased genetic knowledge change the law? Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy
Tauer, Jennifer Elle (2001) International protection of…[continue]
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