DNA Testing is New Liposuction
by Spencer Johnston
DNA is essentially the voluminous instruction manual for the genetic material of animals. So, it makes sense that skipping to the ending or the good parts could be tempting, confusing and perhaps most importantly, misleading.
Genetic testing is attractive to the field of science as well as individuals for a number of reasons. For scientists, it’s kind of like the holy grail. Being able to pin down such biologically important information is powerful and would no doubt create instant success for those professionals involved. Because of the revealing aspects of genetic testing concerning one’s present and future health concerns, many individuals yearn for their respective results.
While this all seems very intriguing, the science of DNA testing is a bit more cloudy than clear. The technology can be very useful to individuals with a greater hereditary risk of certain diseases and health problems, through indications of genetic alterations. “However, a genetic alteration might only indicate susceptibility to or a high risk of developing a disease, but not the certainty of having it” (Di Pietro, Giuli, Spagnolo). So, DNA tests can be inaccurate in terms of predicting one’s future health concerns, which is the primary reason for their existence.
Because the decision to market the at-home versions has largely been retracted, serious problems have been avoided. For instance, if such inaccuracies are present in an actual laboratory, without the presence of doctors and medical professionals, the results would close to worthless in terms of accuracy. “Human error will almost certainly be a contributor
to such undesirable outcomes” (R. Latino).
Ethically speaking, much of the world is strictly divided on the issue of DNA testing. Personally, I feel as though traditional medicine is perfectly capable of detecting health risks and concerns as long as the respective individual does what’s necessary to stay informed about their health. Personal responsibility is by far the most important factor in lifestyle and related health concerns. There is perhaps a correlation between those that are unwilling to care for themselves and those who see DNA testing as a feasible alternative to periodical medical checkups; a sort of one time fix-all.
In short, I’m not interested in such technology as a means of understanding my future health concerns. Human life is a finite, mixed bag of experiences that are unique to all life forms. While the debate as to whether or not human life is more valuable than that of other animals and living things is as strong as ever among religion, science and human rights arenas, there is no doubt in my mind that there is something special going on inside of each and every one of us. Because we have the ability to produce outstanding technology is not reason enough to exploit it. In this way, I would relate DNA testing to fracture drilling. The decision by private companies and coercing from the FDA have ultimately amounted to the de-utilization of this technology and the downward spiral that would inevitably ensue following its widespread adoption.
Di Pietro, M.L., Giuli, A., Spagnolo, A.G. “Ethical implications of predictive DNA testing
for hereditary breast cancer”. Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. Rome, Italy. 2004. http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/suppl_1/i65.full.pdf
Latino, Robert J. “Cost & Truths of Human Error”. Hopewell, Virginia. January, 2008. http://www.reliability.com/healthcare/articleshcp/jan_08_Cost%20and%20Truths%20of%20Human%20Error.pdf