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Discuss the arguments for and against developing a genetic finger print profile for each member of society.

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Introduction

Discuss the arguments for and against developing a genetic finger print profile for each member of society. DNA finger printing is the method for isolating and making images of sequences of DNA. The technique was first developed in 1984 by a British scientist, Alec Jeffreys, after he noticed the existence of certain sequences of DNA, called minisatellites, that do not contribute to the function of a gene but are repeated within the gene and in other genes of a DNA sample. Jeffreys determined that each living thing has a unique pattern of these minisatellites, with the exception of identical twins, just like each person has a unique finger print. But unlike a conventional fingerprint, which occurs only on the fingertip and can be altered by surgery, a DNA fingerprint is the same for every cell, tissue and organ of a person and cannot be altered. As a consequence, DNA fingerprinting is fast becoming the primary and most reliable method of identifying and distinguishing between individuals. But how reliable is it? ...read more.

Middle

Many police laboratories in the USA and Britain have begun to use DNA fingerprinting to link suspects to biological evidence - blood or semen stains, hair, or items of clothing - found at the scene of a crime. Since 1987, hundreds of cases in both countries have been decided with the assistance of DNA fingerprint evidence. DNA fingerprinting can also be used as a form of personal identification for example to determine a child's parents or the identity of a casualty. So if the DNA fingerprint of a person is so valuable and can give so much information, should a national database of everyone's DNA fingerprint be created. This way, for example, if a rape is committed, the police need only consult the DNA database and find a match for the sample they have. But many people find the idea of such a database uncomfortable and think it made lead to discrimination against individuals because of their genes. There are only a few genetic tests now available that actually predict whether a person will contract a disease or condition. ...read more.

Conclusion

In addition discrimination against whole groups may occur. Research on women of Jewish ancestry from Eastern Europe, for example, led to tests that predicted increased breast cancer risk in women with certain genes. This information could be used to determine eligibility and premiums for insurance or to draw broad conclusions about whether or not certain groups in society are healthy. Could this technology lead to the abortion of healthy babies just because they may contract a disease after birth? Parents who get this information have to decide whether they want to take the risk of an unhealthy child or whether they should have an abortion. On the one hand, if the child were unhealthy they would not lead a very happy life and may resent the parent for letting them live. But on the other hand, how can we be sure that the child will become ill? It is a chance that the parent has to take. And this is where science will always eventually lead us, to a moral and ethical decision. The science behind an idea may be sound and make perfect sense, but can society cope with its consequences. ...read more.

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