Friday, September 07, 2007

let. to ed. re. "Mom's Genes or Dad's? Map Can Tell" -- Washington Post

Here's a letter to the Washington Post that was published:
Regarding the Sept. 4 front-page article "Mom's Genes or Dad's? Map Can Tell," about the unraveling of the Venter "diploid" genome: The article noted that sequencing an individual's DNA provides a wealth of information not only about that person but also about his or her relations. But it did not mention that sequencing also provides information about all of an individual's unborn descendants. Thus, when an individual's genome sequence is publicly released, consent implicitly is being given for these unborn descendants without their approval.
Fifty years from now, our understanding of genomic information will undoubtedly be more sophisticated than it is today. In the future, from a bit of sequence, it might be possible to glean a tremendous amount about such things as the diseases or behavioral anomalies that might befall someone. What might these unborn descendants have to say about the release of such highly personal information?
It is worth underscoring that when information is publicly released, it gets widely distributed (via the Internet and other means); any such decision made today will have far-reaching and irreversible consequences.

Citation of the Letter
DNA Rights and Wrongs
Friday, September 7, 2007; A20
New Haven, Conn.

Citation of Article Letter Responds to
Mom's Genes or Dad's? Map Can Tell.
One Man's DNA Shows We're Less Alike Than We Thought
By Rick Weiss
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; Page A01
Scientists have for the first time determined the order of virtually every letter of DNA code in an individual, offering an unprecedented readout of the separate genetic contributions made by that person's mother and father....

Other Articles that this Letter Potentially Responds to
June 12, 2007
The Discoverer's DNA
When scientists talk about sequencing the human genome, they have been talking
so far about creating a composite picture drawn from the gene sequences of many
people. That has now changed for good. Recently, the director of the Human
Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine gave James D. Watson
— who with Francis Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule — two DVDs
that contained the complete sequence of Mr. Watson's DNA.....
June 3, 2007
6 Billion Bits of Data About Me, Me, Me!
JAMES D. WATSON, who helped crack the DNA code half a century ago, last week
became the first person handed the full text of his own DNA on a small computer
disk. But he won't be the last.
Soon enough, scientists say, we will all be able to decipher our own genomes —
the six billion letters of genetic code containing the complete inventory of the
traits we inherited from our parents — for as little as $1,000.
Just what we will do with the essence of who we are once we bottle it, however,
is likely to be as much a social experiment as a scientific one....
June 1, 2007
Genome of DNA Discoverer Is Deciphered
The full genome of James D. Watson, who jointly discovered the structure of DNA
in 1953, has been deciphered, marking what some scientists believe is the
gateway to an impending era of personalized genomic medicine.
A copy of his genome, recorded on two DVDs, was presented to Dr. Watson
yesterday in a ceremony in Houston by Richard A. Gibbs, director of the Human
Genome Sequencing Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, and by Jonathan M.
Rothberg, founder of the company 454 Life Sciences.
"I am thrilled to see my genome," Dr. Watson said....