It seems surreal that we have entered the 21st century, almost like an unbelievable prophecy. We have begun to open doorways that will lead us to unprecedented scientific discoveries, and these achievements will help build an American nation that will become healthier in mind, spirit and body. Today we find ourselves immersed in the moment of enormous possibility-a time when science and technology are making such advancements, we can barely keep up with them. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of Genetics. We are on the verge of discovering the causes and cures for some of our worst health problems. Almost every single month a new gene discovery is reported. Research advancement in natural and bio-medical sciences needs to continue, but the scientific community along with the new administration need to ensure that every American will have confidence that science is advancing in a way that is parallel with our moral values. The new government must be vigilant that science will not also bring new forms of discrimination and exclusion.
The Human Genome project is on the verge of being completed. This will give us for the first time, the full instruction manual for the human body. Being able to read and understand our own genetic code could lead to better disease prevention and earlier treatment. Upon completion of the sequencing, scientists will be able to understand a disease in a whole new way. We have the power already because of advances in genetics to find individuals that are predisposed to Huntington s disease and certain types of breast cancer. In just a few more of earth s rotations, we may know the exact position and makeup of every human gene.
But in the cyclone of bio-revolution we must follow our old values and try to incorporate them with our enlightened science knowledge. As rapidly evolving new technologies make it easier to find disease-related genes in human DNA, tests to determine who carries those genes are becoming increasingly common. The new government should not allow our newest discoveries to serve as the newest excuse to unleash the exposure to discrimination. Discrimination has haunted us throughout human history; on the basis of race and ethnicity; religion and gender; and now, genetic predisposition to a disease. Modern genetics will offer some of the most certain arguments for the unity of humankind. Scientists tell us that the differences between people of one race and people of another are slight. We share almost 99.9% of the estimated three billion bits of genetic information. The new government should not allow unseen and until recently unknown differences in our genetic makeup to create a new form of discrimination; new excuses for job discrimination. New threats that will cause people to avoid preventative health care, and not take the advantage of the positive and productive advancements in field of genetics. Human genome project is double-edged sword. Knowledge about a genetic tendency toward a disease can help a person take steps to prevent it altogether or lessen its severity when disease does strike. Being human, individuals who might benefit from knowing their inherited risk for certain diseases may shun genetic tests or other family history information because they fear their employers will use them to deny job opportunities or health insurance. The use of genetic information to exclude high-risk people from health care by denying coverage or charging high rates will limit the anticipated benefits of genetic research. Genetic information has already been used by insurers to discriminate. In early 1970 s some insurance companies denied coverage and charged higher rates to African Americans who were carriers for the gene for sickle cell anemia. This type of behavior can leave serious consequences to public health. The benefits of human genetics should be a force for progress and not a source for discrimination. The new administration should ban employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information. The new president should work hard to ensure that genetic progress does not breed genetic prejudice.
Science and Society in these days must advance together, because neither can truly advance alone. The amazing scientific achievements that have been accomplished by American scientists can build a stronger American nation. The discoveries that are made by our scientists immediately become woven permanently into the fabric of our society. We must make sure that our genetic code and our moral code remain interwoven together forever.