Genetic Screening Leads to Genetic Engineering then and now

Genetic screening is a hard cold reality that every American, indeed, every human being should be concerned about. There are plenty of issues surrounding genetic screening to be considered, but there is one above and beyond all other that is most crucial to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

There are a lot of good things that can come from genetic screening, but at what cost. For instance, knowing early in life that ones genes indicate a predisposition for a later in life condition, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and so on, might provide some medical advantage to avoid the condition. On the other hand, such knowledge could also lead to depression for the person and ultimately increase the suicide rate. But there may be an even  more nefarious danger of genetic screening lurking out there, one that could have certain impact on the quality of life of a person(s) whose genetic profile is made public information in some database.

It turns out, we already have a predicate to reflect on for what happens when you begin to establish databases of genetic profiles. Here in America, and Europe as well, a social experiment was conducted in the early decades of the twentieth century called “Eugenics.” On the surface of it, only the most noble intentions were stated by the “Race Betterment Foundation,” which in turn established the Eugenics Record Office to collect and maintain records of racial and genetic trait information. And the information they had back then, when the science of genetics was in its infancy and the underlying facets of DNA and RNA had yet to be discovered, amounted to inept psudo-science, compared to what genetic testing would offer today. Once you start identifying people with perceived inferior genetic traits, the unfortunate but obvious next step is to begin a program to eliminate them from the Gene pool. In the United states, 60,000 forced sterilizations were conducted by the Government under the  auspices of Eugenics, and the practice was continued in some states until the 1970’s. In Germany, Eugenics led to a more ghastly prospect of genocide with the Nazi’s “Final Solution.” And it wasn’t just  Jewish people who were being exterminated, it was anyone the Nazis decided was deemed inferior.

The American philosopher George Santa Yana coined the adage “those who fail to remember the past are doomed to repeat it, ” and no truer words have ever been spoken. There are those who would say that something on the order of a Eugenics program, with respect to genetic screening, could not happen in the 21st century, but that is a seriously deluded notion. When you here people using innuendo and inference, describing the American populous in terms of  “the makers versus takers,”or stereotyping Americans as the “47 percent who don’t contribute to American prosperity, but are a drain on it,” you are hearing the vary same words spoken by the proponents of Eugenics, forced sterilization,  and the practice of genocide, less than 100 years ago.

There is no good that can come from your personal genetic profile cataloged in some institutional database, and by now we should be all to aware of the looming time bomb it represents on an individual as well as societal basis. Until we can cure the ills of human intellect based on superstitious ideological creedal matrix, not to mention racial intolerance and class distinction, genetic screening should be prohibited by no less than constitutional amendment.

Having lived during a historical period when the dream of personal freedom has been realized by people in America and around the world to a degree never witnessed before, this writer cringes at the idea we should now start building databases through genetic screening, not to uphold the notion of “one Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” but to replace it with “one nation engineered to achieve genetic purity.”