What could identify someone better than their genetic blueprint? In this blueprint, you can read information about a human, without ever having seen him or her: illnesses, possible addictions, appearance, etc. There is really a lot of information in a single skin cell.
DNA analysis offers an enormous potential for the future; however the risks that they undoubtedly entail should not be ignored. Using today’s state of the art technology, databanks are not that far away from having complete sequences of human genome. Such databanks can be constructed efficiently and can create many opportunities.
However, the public is not well informed and hardly even aware of the dangers associated with the ‘careless’ handling of DNA. We were shocked how many people were immediately willing to give out their DNA for research.
We thought of some negative scenarios in which DNA analysis could potentially be abused:
The head of a company has to decide which candidate to hire for a senior management position. As part of the decision-making process, a saliva sample was collected from a drinking glass. Through a DNA analysis, it was determined whether the individual in question is at a high risk for Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. This information could predict how often the candidate would be on sick leave.
A similar problem could arise with life insurance. Insurance companies could require their clients to submit DNA samples and use the data to adjust insurance premiums, depending on the risk of illness or addiction.
The new trend among young people to reveal everything about themselves on social networks could get so out of hand that they could even post their DNA sequences.
People could coordinate their genomes when choosing mates, e.g. for certain inherited diseases.
It could become possible to artificially produce substances that match the taste receptors, causing people to believe that the flavors are good, even though the food is substandard and rotten.
Naturally, there are also positive scenarios:
Medicine with fewer side effects can be tailored to the sick individuals.
More complex diseases can be decoded due to the increase in the number of genomes that can be studied (data mining).
Diet plans tailored to genetic disposition can help to promote health and a longer life.
In any case, during the analysis of the human genotype, anonymity should be safeguarded and sensitive data should be carefully handled.
Data Protection Act (in German, DGS) §1
Genetic Engineering Act (in German, GTG) § 67 and § 109
Gene Analysis Register according to § 79 Paragraph 1 Z 1 GTG
Book of Genetic Engineering according to § 99 GTG