Monday, November 12, 2007

In DNA Era, do you have anything to worry about?

In this era of DNA being used to test for a number of genetic maladies and disorders, we are faced with having to cope with our mortality in a different way. Instead of leaving our lives up to chance and the outcome of our own decisions, we can now test our DNA to provide us with information about who we are, our ancestors and the chance that some genetic disorder could be a major player in how long we live.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvad states “We will all be walking a fine line between using biology and allowing it to be abused.”

What do you think? Will the new knowledge contained in DNA lead to finding new uses or abuses for this treasure?

Read the article "In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice" to find out more about how this information contained in DNA may become a new weapon to discriminate against... or for. Come back to comment whether you would like your DNA read and why or why not.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/us/11dna.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

42 comments:

abby buuck said...

I think that it is important to continue to do research on DNA. There is still so much that we don't know about it. The more we learn about ourselves, the better, I think. Who knows, maybe a link to finding a cure for a disease or something could be discovered. We do have to be careful. We shouldn't allow the differnces we see to affect the way we think about people. We should respectfully honor and appreciate everyone.

Steve H rocks ur socks said...

I think the study into DNA should be continued. So much can be gained from knowledge of the body, and since DNA contains so much information about our bodies, the more we know the more we can help our bodies be healthy and function. The cure for cancer might lie in the future of DNA research, and if we abandom it now, we will battle cancer for the rest of humanity, rather than possible eliminating the threat of it as a whole.

Chris Anderson said...

This is insane. There is absolutely no reason why one human being should discriminate against another. Absolutely none. I wouldn't mind getting my DNA read, but it isn't something that I would LIKE to have done, because it wouldn't affect the way I live my life or the way I think, so its not necessary. The study of DNA should only be used to help, not be used as a reason to discriminate, because that one doctor in the beginning said that all humans are 99% the same. Besides, humans will never be able to fully comprehend the human brain/mind or DNA for that matter. There will always be crazy people who will discriminate, but DNA also holds many possibilities for new cures, so there is going to be some of both happening if we continue to study DNA.

Carter K. said...

In all honesty, I'm going to have to say that I'm not worried at all about potential "genetic discrimination" in the future. I believe that we as a society have evolved enough to begin to look past the superficial differences between each of us, and, although we are not perfect, we have begun to accept the fact that it is these differences that make our society complete and successful.
I do not believe that it would be a stretch to say that, considering the unique histories of each race of humans within our recorded history (both the outstanding individuals that the histories antagonists) any potential genetic discrimination would be completely without a historical base.
In addition, our understanding of the genetics of our species isn't, and probably never will be, complete. There have always been and always will be anomalies among us.

show me the rainbow said...

I think finding that DNA is different with every person is a beautiful thing! It shows we are all unique but at the same time we are all human.
I think for these Biologist, if they make sure that the view and the approach is positive and reflects the beauty of humans then it wouldn't have to hurt their support at all. If these biologist are trying to find inferiority among races thats bad, but if they emphasizes on the positive elements of their DNA research it would be a great educational tool.
It would allow people to look at educational systems that help each race to improve their learning. I don't think they're less smart, i just think society is built in such a way that creates it hard from them to learn.
So mostly i think DNA is a excellent invention that makes human beings more beautiful and allows people to look at different studying techniques that would help all races.

megan said...

I think that the new tests and the new information about DNA could have high points and low points. I think that one reason it would be good is because then we would know about our history and way to fix defects. I think it would be abused in the sense that people could change their DNA or manipulate their DNA not for the better of the people or themselves because it is crucial, but because they just want to. I think the idea behind immortality is not good because it would cause many problems socially, economically, and morally because life wouldn't be as precious or valued.

Sir Bud the Eight said...

While I do not like the notion of genetic approved discrimination, I think race is an important enough issue to be touched on by genetics. We decoded the human genome, why can't we use the science behind it to help people? True, perhaps some will use it as a signal to practice the more insidious science of Eugenics, but you have to believe that in the hearts of most scientists, the only goal behind the race issue and genetic differences is to help the problems that face people in today's world. The racial differences are important enough to try to develop theories, medicines, and help society evolve together. Just because women and men are equal, does that mean we shouldn't make treatment for women or men specific maladies? It is preposterous to, as Dr. Clark said, "...stick your head in the sand and go blah blah blah...".

pvich said...

I think that looking into the DNA would be very useful and interesting. It could be very helpful to use technology to find out much more about ourselves by using DNA. For example, it could be the key to curing a genetic disease that you have and would never have been found or diagnosed without having seen the evidence in your ancestors. Also, I think it would be interesting to learn much more about my ancestors and more about me through technology with DNA.

Sean R. said...

Would I like my DNA read? Most likely. Even with all the possible controversies that people foresee in the coming future will be a deeper issue on racism, i see this as revolutionary technology that can only help improve your health. If i were to be labeled "stupid" because I'm half Spanish, but i find out I may have lung cancer later on, I'd rather know and live. And truthfully, i know that there are some twisted individuals that would use this information against people but for the most part i believe society will embrace it and I'm also curious to know my exact roots. Isn't everybody?

Stephanie Walczak said...

I would like my DNA tested but not to prove racial sterotypes. I think it is helpful to know about diseases or defects that could affect me or my future family and start preventing them. But the idea that this DNA testing can "prove" racial superiority is absurd, and shouldn't even be looked into. By doing this research and saying that some races are better than others you are erasing years and years of social and political progress dealing with race. Yes there may be differences but I highly doubt they have anything to do with a person's capability at doing a job or succeeding in life.

Tyler K's Blog said...

I think getting my DNA read would be a great idea. Knowing things that could help me prepare for my future would greatly surpass possible disadvantages of my DNA like that I can not take certain drugs like BiDil because it is only availible to African-Americans. The random traits of my DNA will not likely ever come into play throughout my life but big things would be useful to know so I could dertermine a healthy diet for myself or maybe even a career. Hopefully this does not bring about racism but I am afraid that is inevitable. People will compare their DNA with others and probably think they deserve special treatment for things which will make people with other DNA's angry. If they do indeed start reading the DNA of people publicly, I hope people will be able to use the information they recieve to an advantage. =)

Nick said...

Throughout our history, mankind has always found differences to back racial prejudice (i.e. measuring cranium size in europe during WWII). However I feel in an age such as this, this medical/biological breakthrough can be used for good, beneficial uses, like curring/stopping the spread of diseases with minimal abuse. I'm sure there will always be those who discriminate, we can't stop everyone from having an opinion regarding race, but this shouldn't be something that will be abused.

tommy v.k. said...

That would be so awesome. I would love to find out why I take so long to complete my math homework or why I can't throw a football as far as Tom Brady. I think that there have already been abuses of some genetic knowledge such as use of growth hormones unnecessarily. I think there could be abuses in terms of the predisposition for any diseases found from DNA testing by employers who might discriminate against any potential or current employees to keep health care costs low. I think that DNA testing could help with preventing diseases that someone might be prone to catch. It could also help with identifying a specific drug that will be more effective given your genetic makeup. I think that if genetic testing could have a discriminating effect we should start preparing laws or policies for it now instead of later. We also have to know that DNA testing is not always 100% accurate because I might get tests back saying I will do my math in ten minutes, but I know that will never happen.

Abbi Butterfield said...

I think that it would be foolish to just back away from genetics for fear of it's consequences. There are so many good possibilities. Who knows what could be containted in a person's DNA? But I do think that people need to start explaining things better. For instance, all the hype is about the differences, but there's very little attention on the similarities. We need to educate people more so they don't create prejudices. I'd have my DNA read I think, but if I did it'd be sooner rather than later so that it's not too detailed and doesn't influence me too much.

sarah jo said...

I think that looking into DNA has the potential to be really beneficial to everyone and for that reason I think that it should be done. I understand that new race issues could develop because of that, but as long as the information given to the public is stated correctly, and people understand that it is for the benefit of science and understanding humans I dont think it would become an issue. It could help so many people by discovering certain traits that people carry that keep them from getting a disease or giving a warning sign far in advance so that someone can be treated before it is too late, so i Think it is a good thing and should continue.

SarahZZ said...

Our knowledge of DNA is definitely being abused. The fact that some people are choosing if they want to have a boy or a girl baby is not getting as much of a reaction as it used to. Plus, some people are even going to far as to have "designer babies." At least, that's what I have heard. It's understandable if people don't want their kid to have alzheimer's, but this other stuff is unnecessary.

It might be nice to have my DNA read, just to see what I am capable of or if I have any... oddities. Then again, I'm not sure I would want my DNA read just because of privacy-related stuff.

Anna M said...

We need to be very careful when discovering the secrets behind DNA. If scientists don't tread softly, it could easily blow up in everyone's faces. Personally, I don't think I would want my DNA read. How would it benefit me? Finding cures for diseases, finding who's innocent, etc-those are good reasons to keep researching DNA. But if scientists are looking for fuel for racism, they need to stop now.

Kelly said...

I think that is really cool that your DNA can be pin-pointed exactly. However i feel that this discovery should not cause more racism against other continental origins. all people are differnt and that is a fact of life. i would deffinally want my DNA figured out and i dont know why others would not. the fact is that this discovery would probable lead to advancements in health/ medical technology; that is what this discovery whould be seen as.

Corrin said...

i think using DNA to compare different races is not appropriate. DNA use limited to helping cure diseases and other like things is what this research was about in the first place, and that is the farthest it should go. although it is interesting to learn what your exact herritage is, using this knowledge to discriminate different races IQ and limitations and abilities is incredibly inappropriate. using DNA should be confined to researching cures and other like things that help our world, not hurt it and push us even further into debates about racial differences that provoke discrimination.
i might like my DNA read if only for the purpose of knowing my herritage, because i find that interesting. i would not be willing to take that information any further than that.

Jared said...

Certainly some individuals will use this information (or any information, really) for malicious reasons, but that can't really be stopped. I think the potential for good things coming from DNA far outweighs any potential negative impacts (of which there surely will be). Finding out you have a high risk of some cancer for example, could save your life in that you will be more aware for it, maybe go in regularly to test to make sure you don't have it. Things like that would make peoples lives better. If you find out you will not live for as long as you'd like, due to some bad genetic disorder or something, that could help too, it would convince you to really live your life to the fullest (at least I think I would be effected like that). If given the chance I would have my DNA read because I'm curious.

wagner said...

Of course i would like my DNA read. Uncovering a dormant genetic disease or where my great grandfather's great grandfather was from would be amazing. As for creating a new weapon for discrimination, I believe this is a nonissue. Recently published in Scientific American was an article entitled "Racism: The Myth." The color of our skin is decided by an incredibly tiny portion of our DNA, rendering race practically nonexistent. Hopefully new research will eventually unite us under the bonds of humanity.

Stephanie Walczak said...

Would I like my DNA tested? I think so but not for some of the reasons the article presents. I would like to see what is in my past, disease wise, so I can take measures to protect me and my future family. I hope that this testing does not lead to newfound racism as the article suggested and that is one reason why I would not want my DNA tested because I wouldn't want to contribute something that should have been put to rest a long time ago. The idea that there is a science out there that some people want to use to prove some races's inferiority is absolutely ridiculous. I thought science has always been trying to prove people's equality and trying not to make things about race. If I did get my DNA tested it would be for personal use, not to help scientists prove a false idea.

Danny Rose said...

I would definitely like to see the study of genetics continue to grow and I would love to be involved by means of having my “DNA read”. This is a major milestone in modern technology and sciences that we are able to get such a deep understanding inside the human body and DNA. If however, this increased knowledge were to cause a problem amongst racial prejudices, I think that the benefits created by the increased understanding will, by far, outweigh the negative aspects. Such benefits will not only include the present day ones as mentioned in the article that help save innocent people from jail or find ancestors, but they will help us in the future to prevent many more diseases and this will save lives. That is why I do not think the study of genetics should be stopped for such a minor problem compared to the major solutions it will achieve.

Andeh said...

I think there is much potential in being able to read DNA to find out about one's heritage or other traits, and I don't think we should stop researching DNA just because some people may abuse the technology and may somehow do harmful things with it. I personally wouldn't want to have my DNA read, but it's not like I'm going to stop someone who really wants to have theirs read from doing so. I think the positive outcomes from this DNA research will far outweigh the negatives of it, such as being able if you are at higher risk from some diseases or possibly even find out your current predicted lifespan. I can't think of anything super negative and/or life-threatening that would come from it, other than possibly how some people may react to different races being genetically different.

Maddie said...

The benefits of DNA research would completely outweigh any abuses by misinformed people. This is new information and with that comes negative assumptions from the public. Saying that we should discontinue this research becuase a few racist people heard that one expiriment might have proved that white people are smarter is the most rediculous thing I have ever heard. Not only is that a HUGE assumtion by the man, but also with continuation of expiriments and explanations of results by the scientists, our society can benefit and understand the building of the human body better.

Sarah said...

While I understand that the research in DNA is important to understanding our species and maybe finding cures to several maladies that occur in our era, loike cancers and other sicknesses, I also think that there id a very thin line between helping human kind and figuring out which person's DNA is better than anothers. If it's going to tell me there's a chance that I might get cancer, well, I already knew that...I know where I'm from and I have a general idea where I'm going...besides...if they tell me i have some strange, incurable disease, do I really want to know? would that help me?

THe intellegence thing is insignificant to me. Certain factors lead to certain evolutions in races. In other countries, intelligence is more values, so it is developed more than in other countries, like Africa. There it is more necessary for them to be resilient to the many diseases they are faced with. Which is better? It depends on your situation, and that is exactly why these races have developed this way. I don't think it's something to make a big deal about.

(Sarah Anderson, 2nd Hour)

Hanna said...

I think the studies about the human's DNA is very important and it should be continued. In my opinion it is really interesting to learn more about the DNA and for me it is pretty amazing how much we already know about these little tiny things that are contain in our bodies. Of course we should be careful, that people are not going to abuse this part of biology, but we should also see the positive side of it: we will learn and find out even more about our bodies and our DNA and it might even open new windows in terms of medication. That might save people’s life in the future!

Aaron Lomicka said...

I think DNA research should continue. I think it is very interesting to learn what makes someone who they are and there is still so much that we don’t know that it would be a shame not to explore further. With new discoveries such that West Africans have developed a resistance to certain diseases, the door has opened to a whole new world of medical advances. DNA research could prove to be very important in the hunt to better humanity or even find cures to diseases. However, I can see the negative side to knowing too much about ourselves. Along with opening the door to medical discovers, people would also be exposed to a new world of prejudice. I don’t want my kids to be born thinking they are less then someone else only based on their DNA.

yasmine ghanem said...

I think that we should continue to conduct research on DNA. We would be able to learn many new ideas that could help us in many ways. DNA is such an interesting topic that shouldn't be neglected. If this DNA reading presents us with an option to find out about diseases that one possibly could have, we would be able to take the necessary precautions to be able to keep that disease or condition under control.

Dani MacInnes said...

DNA study should continue as long as there is the potential to find important information about diseases. Prejudice will be there whether or not genetic differences are found. The information shouldn't be blamed, but the people. This is just an excuse. I think more people would complain about the potential of prejudice than the actual result of prejudice. In this society we can't offend anyone. Facts are facts. We can't change them. But we can make sure they are taught right so they are not interpreted wrong. That's what we should be working on, not forgetting about DNA research altogether. I wouldn't mind getting my DNA tested. But it's not something I would go out of my way to do.

Erin said...

Erin Connors -
This article was very interesting and enlightening. I did not know what was going on with DNA and genes, and I personally hope that genetics do not allow more racism to seep into our society. We are still a racist society as a whole, we have never fully become unracist, and this would just set us back. I don't get how you can have a "smart" gene and a "dumb" gene - isn't it all about how all your genes combine? Haha, if that's wrong, it is cause I haven't read chapter 8 yet! Anyways, I liked this article and I just hope that they continue to study, but are conscious of their findings!

keredthemanraf42 said...

The documentation of DNA is philosophically harmful, due to its inherent Otherizing effects. When a person defines their identity in terms of DNA, they conform to a different standard than they would otherwise. The giving of labels to certain subsets of society is detrimental to that subset, since the label becomes rigid and entrenched, with no way to challenge it. When those in one genetic class distinguish between themselves and another group based on genetic qualities, this differenciation lowers the ability of the other group to define themselves. For example, when those in the category with high IQ and tall stature define themselves as good, and those outside of that genetic category as deviant based on genetics, those who have different genes lose their ability to define themselves in terms of the Other. In short, the implications of DNA are more philosophical than physical.
Derek

Kevin Weiss said...

I think we should continue to conduct research on DNA because there could be countless secrets in each person's DNA. If scientists know that certain types of people react to different kinds of medicine and drugs, they can protect and help many people. Also the statement that tests are being run to see if white people are smarter than others is completely ridiculous. The downside to these DNA tests is that it could create race and prejudice problems around the world.

claire said...

The continuation of looking more in-depth into DNA research would be highly beneficial. Simply because the more we continue to learn about DNA, and research it, the better chances we have at understanding diseases, deformities, etc, and possible ways to cure these imperfections. However as a great man once said "With true power comes great responsibility" (heh heh) And this is true. New advances can always be manipulated into negative outcomes, but in reality this research will help more people than it will harm,

alex eastman said...

I think DNA research should be continued. It'd be extremely interesting to find out why I can and can't do certain things, and basically allow others and myself to discover so much more about oneself. However, while such research might spark racial and discriminatory issues, I feel that if such research was just kept private (revealed only to the one who's DNA was read) and only very general observations were announced to the public, those issues wouldn't be as fierce as they potentially could be if every last detail was announced. However, the downside to announcing anything at all is that someone is bound to take it the wrong way, and be offended. So while there are many issues that would pop up in continuing such research, if handled properly, the benefits could very well outweigh those issues.

Eleanor said...

I guess getting my DNA read would be pretty interesting, and I'd love to know the details about my ancestry and see if it matches how I think of my ancestry now. It could also be useful for finding out if I'm at risk for certain diseases, although that might be kind of worrying, especially if I never get any of them. We have to treat what we discover from DNA in a balanced and reasonable way so that we don't give it more importance than it deserves. Like it mentioned in the article, genetics is far from the only thing that determines who we are, and it would be dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about certain races since there is always variation. I think we knew even without DNA testing that there were differences between the races, but they don't diminish any individual's worth as a person. Besides, I think science will usually lead us to discover that things are even more complex than we'd imagined.

Connor said...

We are all different, that's a fact that we must realize. Our DNA says allot about our history and what part of the world we're from. That means that if one race is more prone to certain traits then we should embrace that fact. On the grounds that DNA can distinguish IQ is dangerous because true intelligence can never be measured. Lets just acknowledge the fact that are DNA makes us different but no better than anyone else!

anne said...

yes i would like my DNA read, i think that it is very interesting and could end up being very beneficial. DNA being used to understand more about genes and different cultures is good. But when the DNA of different races are compared, i think the overall effect is rather negative. I think that all of these new discoveries in DNA are for the best, and that some people may take the new information the wrong way, but overall it is very beneficial in discovering more about genes and race.

Sarah J said...

I would like to have my DNA read but only because I think that it would be interesting to find out things, genetics wise, that I don't already know. I think it would be both useful and cool to learn why I look the way I do, and if I might be more prone to a certain disease.

But besides all of those things, I also think that if DNA testing and research is to become more available and popular (more of the population getting their DNA read), then things also need to be addressed first. For instance people need to be made aware that, like the article says, this isn't meant to prove some races more genetically superior over another. There are a lot of crazy people out their and thats why this aspect needs to be made absolutely clear, this DNA research should be careful not to provoke any sort of hate crimes against specific races as a result. Yet, this cannot stop us from continuing to develope DNA research and testing, people just also need to understand that as this research becomes more public, much disgression is needed.

Sarah Jursik

Daphy said...

I believe that, though scientists and the public should be careful, DNA reading could be a very powerful tool that would improve the lives of many. On the other hand, if abused it could become too powerful and ruin the lives of many more. Hopefully DNA research will continue but society should be very careful as to how this information is used.

Laura F. said...

I found what Marcus W. Feldman said to be very interesting, that, “It’s not there yet for things like I.Q., but I can see it coming. And it has the potential to spark a new era of racism if we do not start explaining it better.” This talking about DNA and how there have been supposed links to intelligence with certain DNA etc. I agree with Marcus that it could lead certain races to think they are automatically superior in certain aspects like athleticism and intelligence, simply because of their DNA. What DNA doesn't account for though, are other factors like where you grew up, what kind of childhood you had, how much education you receive, personal standards and ways of life, and much much more. I think using DNA to know about diseases an unborn child may have could be very beneficial, however. It would give parents time to prepare and give them more options to decide if they want to go through with the pregnancy.

Ben Biewen said...

I believe DNA research should be continued, nobody knows what the whole truth about DNA and a large reward for researching it may be one of those things we don't know about it. The worst that could happen is we find nothing new, but the chances of that are slim. In conclusion I strongly encourage DNA research because we may come across a cure or reason for cancer, or any other disease which could potentially change the human race forever.