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Whose genes are they anyway?

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Whose genes are they anyway?

#1 Postby Alan H » December 30th, 2016, 12:51 am

Something I'd not thought of before that poses a moral dilemma: Whose genes are they anyway?
Rather than focusing on the responsibilities of the companies and research organisations collecting and handling genetic data, I want to turn the issue back on the public. Most people would probably agree that their genes belong to them, and that information about the contents of their genome shouldn’t be indiscriminately flogged to corporate interests or the government.

But this isn’t quite true. Your genes are not just your genes. You share a significant proportion of them with your blood relatives. Information that you find out about your health and ancestry doesn’t just apply to you – it might well apply to the people in your family too. Do they have a right to know about serious disease risks that you find lurking in your DNA? And what about evidence of complicated family situations such as adoption or what is euphemistically called “misattributed paternity“?

...

In the case of identical twins, their genetic sharing is almost 100 per cent. If a twin decides to have their genome analysed, they are also finding out private information about their sibling too. So what happens if they don’t want to know? It might sound like a far-fetched scenario, but this decision recently cropped up for identical twins Samantha Schilit and Arielle Schilit Nitenson, who wrote a paper about their experience in the Journal of Genetic Counselling.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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jaywhat
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Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Re: Whose genes are they anyway?

#2 Postby jaywhat » December 30th, 2016, 6:49 am

Alan H wrote:. Most people would probably agree that their genes belong to them .


But do genes 'belong' to specific individuals. It depends, of course, on what is meant by 'belong'. I suggest that genes are not something that are owned. They are natural elements that exist in the natural world.

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Alan H
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Whose genes are they anyway?

#3 Postby Alan H » December 30th, 2016, 9:39 am

jaywhat wrote:
Alan H wrote:. Most people would probably agree that their genes belong to them .


But do genes 'belong' to specific individuals. It depends, of course, on what is meant by 'belong'. I suggest that genes are not something that are owned. They are natural elements that exist in the natural world.
Possibly, but the genes make the individual and what is being talked about here is not the actual genes themselves but the knowledge about what those genes are, the sequences they form, which ones are missing, etc that provide information on, say, the person's likelihood of developing cancer or Alzheimer's or where their ancestors came from. While one person may take a decision that they want to find out, a twin may not: could that information - which as much belongs to one twin as another - be made available to one but not the other? What about family and friends?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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jaywhat
Posts: 15284
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Re: Whose genes are they anyway?

#4 Postby jaywhat » December 30th, 2016, 2:14 pm

Still thinking about what you say, Alan, but not sure about it one way or the other.

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Alan H
Posts: 22762
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: Whose genes are they anyway?

#5 Postby Alan H » December 30th, 2016, 2:59 pm

jaywhat wrote:Still thinking about what you say, Alan, but not sure about it one way or the other.
It's not at all straightforward, is it?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?


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