Ethics of DNA databasing

Check out this debate, from The Economist: The ethics of DNA databasing

The claim being debated: “People’s DNA sequences are their business, and nobody else’s.” The participants in the debate are one of the world’s leading bioethicists, and one of the world’s leading biotechnologists.

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan defends the claim. He begins like this:

There are, it is increasingly said, plenty of reasons why people you know and many you don’t ought to have access to your DNA or data that are derived from it. Have you ever had sexual relations outside a single, monogamous relationship? Well then, any children who resulted from your hanky-panky might legitimately want access to your DNA to establish paternity or maternity.

Biologist Craig Venter attackes the claim. He begins like this:

As we progress from the first human genome to sequence hundreds, then thousands and then millions of individual genomes, the value for medicine and humanity will only come from the availability and analysis of comprehensive, public databases containing all these genome sequences along with as complete as possible phenotype descriptions of the individuals.


About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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