.. and know ‘everything’ about you?
The other night I watched this really fascinating but also kind of scary documentary about our genetic code and how easily it can be deciphered nowadays. You can contact one of the numerous companies that offer this service today for an affordable price. They don’t sequence your whole DNA (6 000 000 000 chemical letters) which would really be expensive but some 1 000 000 letters out of the six billion. It’s called genotyping.
But the decoding of your whole DNA could be affordable for every one in a couple of years for less than 1000 $! Just for the record: The first decoding of a DNA took about 13 years and 3 billion$ – crazy how fast science advances, isn’t it?!)
On the basis of this decoding you can get plenty information, amongst others about the diseases you carry, the diseases that you might pass on to your children, the chances to suffer from this diseases.. How weird would it be to know all that?! And then knowing without really knowing because it’s still a probability, even if it says 90%, there is still a 10% chance that you might not get it. It would drive me crazy.
But it can also help and give the explanation for health issues somebody suffers already and whose causes are difficult to be found and thus indicate a treatment. They call this personalised medicine which is based on your own genetic code. They decipher your genetic code looking for something ‘foul’, something that diverges from the usual ‘writing’, (as 99% of human genomes are identical) an error that causes a mutation of a gene. But even if the error can be found, there is not always a solution, a remedy.
You could find out about your predospositions, your biggest risks and prevent the illness from even breaking out -if possible. But what if you can’t? What if you find out that there is a 80% chance for you to get x (or your partner, or somebody else in your family..) – your whole life might change -and what if there’s no remedy for x? Would you want to know?
I’m not sure we are ready yet to bear all those information. Some of us might be but a lot of us are certainly not – in a scientific and psychological matter spoken. It’s difficult to exploit those information in the right way. It is quite heavy material and I think it can really lead to an ethic dilemma – and I’m not even talking about all the dangers for your privacy vis-à-vis your employer, your insurance company, society..
I think it’s ok to use this method for the sick or those who are exposed to a high risk of heredity transmission of a severe illness but doing it out of pure curiosity….