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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2000

    Genetic Wizards

    Excellent survey of 2 decades of progress in genetics, 1970-1990. The updated part of the book is a 15 page Epilogue, hardly doing justice to the past explosive decade. Authors put great conflict and human interest into their stories, e.g., the couple, each carrying the recessive gene for cystic fibrosis, had each given it to both of two daughters before they realized they were playing genetic casino. They ¿realized their gamble only after they¿ve already lost the bet.¿ The questions of whether to offer a new gene test for a serious malady when no treatment was available were especially troubling to the researchers. Authors present a scary picture for the future role of medicine and physicians. Doctors will have to order genetic profiles to avoid malpractice. In pharmacogenetics, drug companies will take one¿s blood to develop personalized medicine to avoid side effects. The profile will allow them to peek into your health, your personality, your IQ potential and physical skills. With that genetic profile they can, with their pals the insurance companies, become tyrannical Big Brothers. Authors try to raise red flags about future genetic discrimination. They don¿t seem to realize how much of current discrimination is already based on genetics. Society has been coping with discrimination for centuries. They mention the probable arising of a biological underclass (perhaps like the caste of untouchables in India?) and see that a genetic profile could become a scarlet letter following one throughout one¿s life. Employers would get the data and make a group unemployable. But aren¿t there already laws protecting the handicapped? In the near future most everyone will be seen with defective genes and partially handicapped. Perhaps, however, Author¿s concern about a hereditary meritocracy is just genetic hocus-pocus. One¿s current illusions of choice and one¿s ignorance of the current genetic basis to behavior are likely to continue. The realization that one typo in the replication of a gene can cause a defect or disease is not likely to change one¿s current illusions of self control. The vast number of 3 billion interrelated nucleotides will more than likely always keep both science and lay people amazed at the complexity of human life.

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