27 May 2007

Googling the Genome, Part III

Good to see some others concerned by the imminent arrival of personal genomics:

In addition, many scientists fear cheap genome sequencing could have other, worrying consequences. Professor Steve Jones of University College London, said: 'If you make your genome public, you are not just revealing information about yourself and what diseases you might be susceptible to, you are also giving away crucial data about the kind of illnesses your children might be prone to. Each of your children gets half your genes, after all. They might not want the world to know about the risks they face and become very unhappy in later life that you went public. Your other relatives might equally be displeased.'

And by its implications for civil liberties:

However, there are other concerns, as Professor Ashburner points out. 'Anyone who commits relatively minor offences can have their DNA taken and analysed. At present, the main use of this process is to create a DNA fingerprint that can be used to identify that individual. But soon we will be able to create an entire genome sequence of that individual from a swab or blood sample. We will end up knowing everything about their genes. In the end, we could have millions of people on a database and know every single genetic secret of each person. That has to be a very worrying prospect.'

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