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What are the ethical and legal concerns regarding the human genome project?

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Ethical and legal concerns regarding the human genome project include collection methods, intellectual property ownership of collected materials, and access to and appropriate use of collected materials.

Controversies about the worldwide human genome project have accompanied the project since the planning stages. The idea of creating a worldwide collection of...

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Ethical and legal concerns regarding the human genome project include collection methods, intellectual property ownership of collected materials, and access to and appropriate use of collected materials.

Controversies about the worldwide human genome project have accompanied the project since the planning stages. The idea of creating a worldwide collection of genetic materials has many positive features. Nevertheless, questions about the closely related aspects of collecting the materials and ownership of materials collected are also frequently raised.

One concern is the dominant role of the highly developed nations in designing and implementing a project that is carried out in less developed countries around the world. Issues include informed consent of individuals from whom the material is collected. In addition, if the collected material is primarily stored in the more developed nations, critics worry that donor individuals, their relatives, and their descendants may not be able to access the materials.

Another type of concern involves the use of materials. Donors’ genetic materials may be used in varied ways without their explicit consent. Similarly, information about their genome might be shared publicly and lead to discrimination against those with particular features. Many critics are fearful of bioengineering and eugenics experiments in which scientists manipulate genetic material without proper safeguards or even destroy material.

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