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The Ethical Implications of the Human Genome Project Imagine that an enormous space-traveling rocket was under construction in Florida Books and articles described the selection of the crew the construction problems and the likely cost However little attention was paid to its destination or mission after it arrived This was not what happened of course when the Apollo project landed men on the moon for the first time This analogy works very well in describing another large government-funded effort that is taking place in a different area today the attempt to read the entire genetic DNA text of billions of characters that describes the heredity of a typical human being This undertaking has been named the Human Genome Project This project is intended to teach scientists how the human body operates on its most basic level With this knowledge comes a barrage of ethical legal and social implications that must be considered James Watson while head of the project appropriated 3 percent of the projects funding for the study of these implications Cook-Deegan 237 Although much information is being generated through this appropriation it is surely not enough It is thought that ethical guidelines must be determined as to what extent scientists geneticists and doctors will utilize this information The Human Genome Project is a worldwide research effort initiated by the National Institute of Health and the Department of Energy whose goal is to analyze the structure of human DNA and to determine the location of the estimated 100000 human genes Along with this goal the groups are working on analyzing the structure and determining locations in the DNA of a set of model organisms These model organisms when studied will provide the comparative information necessary for understanding the human genome US Dept of Health and Human Services 1-3 The basic data produced in this project is sent to electronic databases where the information is assimilated and made readily accessible to those who
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