The Human Genome Project


A Benefit for Humanity or a Threat to Privacy?

It has been called the Holy Grail of modern biology. Costing more than $3 billion dollars, it is the most ambitious project for the United States since the Apollo missions (Wilkie 1). The Human Genome Project will take even longer to accomplish than the lunar space missions and its effects on each of our lives will be equally enormous. The estimated completion date for this project is 2010 but we will not have to wait until then for the project to touch our lives.

The Human Genome Project is a world-wide effort, headed by the United States, to identify and map all of the estimated 80,000 genes that are found in human DNA. The goal is to determine the sequence for the 3 billion chemical databases that compose each one of our DNA chains. Simply put, the project is discovering the blue print for the human body.

This project will result in an unprecedented understanding of the basic biochemical processes of man. Some of the benefits that will result from this research is the possible liberation from cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and some psychiatric illnesses. It sounds amazing but science assures us that it is true. As with all good things, these will come at a cost that is not included in the $3 billion price tag. There will be new threats to society that until now have only been story lines for science fiction.


Christopher Myles cmyles@ufl.edu