Gattaca-Lite

Maud Newton interviewed Misha Angrist, member four of the Personal Genome Project to have his entire genome to be published online, and author of Here Is A Human Being:

I think what will happen is that more and more people of reproductive age will undergo carrier screening in order to avoid conceiving kids with relatively rare genetic diseases that are caused by single genes gone awry. I'm talking about cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, etc. One can imagine a day when having kids with those maladies will be stigmatizeda kind of GATTACA-lite.

That would suck, IMHO, and perhaps not only because of the icky eugenic implications. It could also suck because the genome is a dynamic thing, and a balancing act. Sickle cell trait has persisted because carrying it protects one from getting malaria. Who's to say that carrying one copy of a cystic fibrosis mutation doesn't similarly protect us against cholera or various diarrheal illnesses? If we eliminate those mutations from the population, are we opening the door to a future of intestinal problems?

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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