Tag Archives: genetics

Reuniting Siblings Raised Apart

DNA genes formatted

From my personal observations of regular siblings raised apart, there are a few problems that come up when they are reunited and studied.

My mother was a middle child of five who was put up for adoption (her birth family was facing an economic hardship and they couldn’t afford to have another child around the time she was born).  The rest of her birth family remained together, and after the death of my mother’s adoptive parents, she set out to find her real family.

They were reunited five years ago by mail, and shortly afterwards, my mother and her long lost brother and sisters participated in a study of separated siblings.  Unfortunately, she had found that the rest of the family lived a pretty hardscrabble life, whereas my mother was more spoiled and had more opportunities.  This caused a tinge of resentment among her siblings.  There is also the idea that when everyone is joined together, they THINK they know each other when they really don’t and I’ve seen this to cause hurt feelings.

There is also the matter of finding out about family genetic health issues, and learning about what you may be predisposed to can be disconcerting.  Lastly, there is the freak chance that when four sisters get together, they could all show up wearing the same hideous pink shirt and blue jean combination (If only I could find the picture).

IMAGE CREDIT (and topical coverage):
Twins separated at birth reveal staggering influence of genetics

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Human Genome: Map & Copywrite

The Human Genome Project should be opened to all as costs go down in gene mapping. Regular people should get the opportunity to find out what is in their genetic “cards.” Imagine ‘genetics’ in high school with open access to the Human Genome Project.  Keeping the enormous potential of the project locked away is senseless, considering that someone who is prevented from working with copy-written genes could the person to make a huge scientific breakthrough.

The patenting of human genes for profit motive should be reconsidered as ethically questionable because it blocks research. (and cures)

image & recent coverage:
Supreme Court Agrees to Consider Myriad Case Involving Human Gene Patents

 

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Your Are More Than Your DNA Sample

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Genetic testing has potentialities which include the erosion of Fourth Amendment right to privacy. When all genes are mapped, hopefully, a situation like what occurred in the movie Gattaca does NOT happen. In that film, people with only the best genetic traits are eligible for the prime jobs, while those who lack the pre-implanted superior genes (otherwise “natural” births) are typically confined to low level menial jobs.  If not enough protection is given to patient privacy and disclosure rights, this seemingly novel advance in medicine could play out like the movie.  The rights of all people must be protected, stronger than HIPAA, and immune to the future legal manipulations.

Fourth Amendment. (n.d.) West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. (2008). Retrieved October 26 2009 from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Fourth+Amendment

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What If All Dogs Were Clones?

2009.07.21cloned

HYPOTHETICAL

Firstly, there would be less genetic diversity among dogs. The dogs that had the most desirable traits would dominate the population, while those with less desirable (more aptly put, “less popular”) traits would be fewer in number or no longer exist; perhaps, except for their genetic code in a database or genetic material to sample in case future demand necessitates its reintroduction.  If all dogs were clones, the population would be easier to manage, because it would theoretically be possible to know how many are on the market, and of what kind.

Animal overpopulation could also be solved, but that in turn, becomes an economics issue: instead, for the issue of surplus, envisage a warehouse of over-produced puppies, put to sleep in a “down” market to recoup losses from the over-speculative production that brought them into existence.  This may be solved with the cloning of pets “to order,” keeping maintenance costs low by providing direct service from the lab to the consumer.

Dogs would turn into a commodity, much like toys, rather than the slightly independent life form they are now.  Value of each “style” will be determined in this new market, and some people will be priced-out from having their desired breed to a greater extent than which exists currently.  Sadly, pet abandonment could increase as owners begin to see the animal more as a commodity than a living being.  Popularity of a particular breed may rise, whereas others will fall; if animals are regarded more as commodities, instances such “Paris Hilton syndrome” may occur with greater frequency.

The Chihuahua; popularized by Hollywood, Television, and commercials; fell out style. The animals started turning up in shelters in San Francisco, where officials say “If the trend continues…the (city) shelter would become 50 per cent Chihuahua within months.  People who purchase an animal like it was a toy, treat it as such.  In that respect, “designer dogs” are dangerous idea in a consumer culture such as ours.  Life (although it already is in some respects) shouldn’t be treated as something to, in one instance, desire; in another, throw away.

The question remains: How far do we go in our attempt to perfect life?  And, what if the knowledge of the scientific community is still too naïve to understand the consequences of it’s’ actions? What of all the unpredictable externalities that may occur with pet (and eventually, human) trait selection?  That is not to say that we should abandon attempts at bettering the world in which we live; genetic manipulation is a tool that can help us do that.

In a perfect world, there would no longer be vicious animals (or humans).  Pets (and, again, humans) could perhaps live longer, having the best possible genetic combinations.  It should be consciously realized that the “mutt” (again, humans as well), could disappear, for better or for worse.  Genetic manipulation should be a tool for species to better themselves or be bettered; however, it should be an ‘equalizer.’ There must be careful considerations not to drive a larger wedge between socioeconomic classes, be it from selecting the best human traits, or having access to the best designer animal.

Image and a story, here:
http://www.zmescience.com/research/cloned-canine-drug-sniffers-are-an-amazing-success-in-south-korea-big-leap-for-animal-cloning-in-the-future/

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