FAVREAU: Effects of Genetic Testing
After completing my reflection paper on the how gene therapy effects and is affected by society, I wanted to learn more about this field. I found the legal aspect and they effects of the scientific breakthroughs to be very interesting. I read an article about genetic testing, and the positive along with negative effects that can result from it. Genetic testing gives an individual the option to know if they are at risk for a certain inheritable disease. This topic interests me because it gives the individual the choice as to whether or not they want to be tested for the diseases, and greatly affects their lives. Although the individual is given the choice, there are still legal sanctions that have been created due to this technology. In 2008 the "Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act" was passed, preventing insurance companies from being able to discriminate based on one's genetic data. I feel that this type of discrimination probably never crossed the minds of scientists when they were developing mechanisms for determining if individuals are at risk. How many times does more negative consequences result from a development, than positive beneficial results? This relates to many of the articles we have been reading, as to whether or not science is positively or negatively impacting society and who is in control?
For the topic of genetic testing, there both positive and negative effects to the technology. On the positive side, it allows patients to be prepared for the disease. There may be treatment options or preventative measures the patient can follow, and it allows them to make insightful choices regarding reproduction (the possibility of passing the trait on). Scientists view these as extraordinarily beneficial from a scientific standpoint, but on a personal level things may not seem so bright. For many people, the option of knowing they were highly at risk of acquiring a disease would change their whole lifestyle. Many people don't want to know if they have are going to be hit with an incurable disease. This choice is left up to the individual to make.
The possibility of genetic testing data falling into the wrong hands and being used against one, is very unsettling. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects citizens from being discriminated against due to their genetic make-up, but there uncertainty still remains. Is this technology going to be used to help citizens, or is it going to develop into something that is used to create some sort of "eugenics"? At this point, the process is a choice for each individual, but will that change in the future, and if so what kind of effects would this have on society?
Every new technology and scientific breakthrough has the possibility of being misused. For genetic testing, this misuse is currently being controlled by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. I think it is very important that regulatory agencies continue to intervene and create sanctions for new technologies so that they, like genetic testing, can be used to positively impact society, by the choice of the individual.