Medicine has always focused on the treatment of diseases. Scientists have talked about changing this since the Human Genome Project began. Researchers have found that they may be able to predict whether or not a patient will develop a disease based on their genetic map although currently, this is a long way off.
Theoretically, doctors could predict and prevent various diseases before they occur in the future. Genetics are already used in regular medical science and the field of genomic medicine is growing at an unparalleled pace. Enthusiastic commentators have compared it to the development of antibiotics.
Nevertheless, controversy rears its ugly head at every turn. Genomic medicine opens an entire book of ethical quandaries. Technological singularities should cause the human race to come together. In theory, technology is causing the democratization of all areas of our lives.
However, genomic medicine could cause mass discrimination as well. Large groups have been discriminated against because of their political affiliation, race, gender or creed…so why not genetics as well? Discrimination is supposed to be a thing of the past however genomic medicine could cause people to be marginalized based on their genetics.
This is clearly a step backwards. As genomic medicine starts to treat diseases that don’t yet exist, doctors need to exercise caution and restraint in their work. It’s sometimes said that technology is morally neutral. However, what doctors do with technology can have serious moral implications in the years ahead as well.
Image Credit: U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program