Thursday, February 9, 2012

One Cup Adenine, Two Teaspoons Guanine

The idea of getting my DNA genotyped intensely reminds me of the 1997 movie Gattaca. The movie, staring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law takes place in a futuristic society that genetically "builds" children from conception. This concept of "building children" instead of conceiving them naturally allows for the parents to choose not only the gender of the child, but the child's hair or eye color, athletic and academic ability and body type. In addition, the parents can choose to avoid possible negative traits such as premature balding, alcoholism or addiction and inheritable diseases. In the movie, the main character Vincent Anton Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is conceived naturally as we do now. Vincent ends up being born with a heart condition and therefore deemed an "invalid" or "imperfect." he eventually ends up taking on the DNA genome of Jerome Morrow (Jude Law) in order to get a job as a space navigator in the astronaut training and rocket launch center: Gattaca.

Just so I don't give too much of the movie away: the basic idea of that society is to use the DNA not only as an identification method but as a measure of likeliness to succeed. I think that is what scares people the most about genotyping or sequencing, that one day it will be more of a force for discrimination than something that can help people avoid disease.

For me, it is simple to see both sides of the argument. When I'm honest with myself, it's a bit nerve racking to this of possible outcomes of being genotyped. Coming from a family with Type II Diabetes, cancers, high blood pressure and a slew of other health issues; it is easy to get nervous. Especially if I were to go public with my results like they do in Gattaca. Should my results be negative, would I be seen as attractive? Would it cause me to be a high risk employee? Would I even be hired? On the other hand if everyone was so open with their genome then it could allow for less disease and more healthy it worth the risk of discrimination? Should we genetically "build" our children? Or should be just leave it to the movies?

Maybe I should just wear colored contacts...


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