The Human Genome Project has been around for a little more than two decades. Initiated and sponsored by the National Human Genome Research Institute, the project aims at researching more human genes in order to understand and alter human genetics. The primary objective of the project isn’t wrong or questionable but its implications are.
The human genome project goes hand in hand with genetic engineering. It is an attempt to understand human genetics, each and every gene and our DNA. Human genetics is so complex that there isn’t yet an account of all genes and how every gene functions, gets altered and is subjected to mutation. Scientists have always been baffled at the natural evolution, mutation and anomaly of human genetics. While some simpler organisms and their genes have been completely explored, understood and have even been toyed with by scientists, human genetics is still elusive.
Proponents of the human genome project and everyone who endorses the initiative choose to stand by the pros of the program. Critics and skeptics have their own take on the project which is mostly filled with shortcomings or risks. To better understand the scope and the implications of the program, let us take a look at the human genome project pros and cons.
Pros of the Human Genome Project
1. Huge Financial Consequence
t can turn into a massive business or industry so to speak. The healthcare industry worldwide, including all facets, is the largest in terms of value or money spent. Pharmaceutical giants are among the richest organizations in the world. If the human genome project succeeds and there are some serious positive outcomes as in implications that can be manifested or used in reality then the project can create a new industry, dozens of companies and can make way for innumerable jobs. Till date, the project has already employed about four million people.
2. Improved Studying of Medicines
The human genome project has some very serious advantages. If it succeeds and if scientists are able to use their studies in medicines, in altering genes or even bettering medical procedures based on the study of a person’s genes, then incurable diseases can become curable, medicines can become more effective, medical care can become customized based on a person’s genes and it is quite possible that some of the difficult questions that the scientific community faces will be answered. With the success of the human genome project, the average human lifespan can be increased, people with diseases like cancer can be cured and such ailments can be prevented. Many severe medical conditions can become extinct if the human gene is altered and thus programmed to resist the various common and uncommon diseases.
3. Revolution of Pharmaceuticals
There is a perception that the human genome project is an attempt to play with nature and the natural evolution or mutation of humans. That is ringing the alarm bells too soon. The project is primarily aimed at bettering the medicines that we take, the medical procedures and more proactive diagnosis of diseases with an intention to prevent them and to cure them. Drugs can become more effective with the findings of this project. As scientists understand human genetics more lucidly than they do now, there can be a revolution of sorts in the pharmaceutical industry and that would benefit the common man.
Cons of the Human Genome Project
There are certain shortcomings, rather risks of the human genome project. The first major problem it faces is opposition from various quarters who consider it to be unethical. Playing around with human genes whether it is somatic cell gene therapy or germ-line gene therapy, altering human genes and genetic modification of any kind is considered to be unnatural. While religious organizations term it as blasphemy, more rational people see it as playing with the natural scheme of things and thus question the need for such initiatives. At best, the human genome project is a contentious issue.
2. Privacy Issues
Privacy issues have been raised by many. Studying human genes, the information of such studies being shared across by different governments or companies and the availability of such information for mala-fide interests is a grave risk. There isn’t any precedent that can prove this perception or fear to be realistic but one cannot rule out any misuse of all the data.
3. Real World Implications
The human genome project has one major flaw. It could just be another study and a long drawn process of understanding something without any real world implications. It may so happen that the findings or the understanding of human genetics would lead to nothing substantial. There is a large section of scientists who don’t endorse the idea simply because no one knows what genetic modification can do to us. It is pretty black and white to say that a bad gene can be replaced with a good gene and that can do wonders for a person. What no one knows is if that good gene will be for the better eventually. What if there is a chain reaction that causes more harm than good?