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Unravelling the genome

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Who should know about your genes?

Imagine a time in the not-too-far-distant future, when each of us has our own DNA profile on computer, carried with us at all times, available to any hospital if needed.

This information will include any genetic diseases we may have, along with our tendency to develop problems like diabetes, heart disease, cancers of various sorts, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease … What is more, our DNA profile will provide information about whether we are more likely than average to become an alcoholic or drug addict, turn to smoking, seek out extra sexual partners, be infertile or put on lots of weight.

Activity 4

Our doctors need information about us to help them to work with us to keep us as healthy as possible for as long as possible. But who else needs to know? For each of the people or organisations on this list below, give all the reasons you can think of why
a) they should, and
b) they should not
have access to the information from your genes.

People who may want information about your genetic makeup could include:

  1. Your partner

  2. Your potential partner (should your main genetic tendencies be included on dating web sites and apps?)

  3. Your employer

  4. Your potential employer (should your main genetic tendencies be included on your CV or job application forms?)

  5. The company who insures your life

  6. Your bank

  7. Friends from work

  8. Your children

Use the above examples and other you might want to explore to engage in an open discussion/debate about who should or not have access to our genetic information and why.

If necessary, final conclusions or arguments for or against could be summarised in a short report.

Teacher guidance: Taking into account the students you are working with, give consideration to success criteria for this activity before running it in class.