Best Possible Start

Something that got missed this week during Palin’s Going Rouge-mania and the premiere of some vampire movie for tweens… In a landmark bill, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, becomes the “most important anti-discrimination law passed in the last two decades.” The law will ban employers from administering genetic testing on their employees (in most cases). Now you can’t be let go if you have a heart condition that’s not currently acting up. Score one for the privately sick.

This law goes a way toward preventing a society based on liberal eugenics, as explored in the 1997 future-noir film Gattaca, but is it enough? As our mastery of the human genome increases, it seems only logical that improvements to our fragile frames will occur. In that film, humans are “fixed” at birth. Any inconsistencies you have as an embryo are whittled out- babies lucky enough to have parents with means are given the best possible start. An underclass is created. The haves and the have-nots compete for the same jobs. It’s easy to see who wins.

This is not called the Gattaca Law. It is not meant to address such an outcome, but it is a precedent that needed to be set. Widespread genetic engineering is coming and I wonder if we’re prepared for the consequences. What happens if it is not available to all?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/business/16genes.html

2 Comments

  1. Dennis November 20, 2009

    I think that within the next 100 years we will essentially have two different species of homo sapien: those in the developed world, reaping the benefits of genetic and cybernetic enhancements, and those in the third world who will remain plain old organic humans. This could be the biggest paradigm shift since the industrial revolution, yet another development in a series of technological advancements that separate the haves from the have-nots. Gattaca was not that far-off in the first place.

    (btw – there’s a Palin ad on your site since you mentioned her in your original post. Hilarious!)

  2. Learning german February 18, 2010

    Its all in the manual they make you read before they download your being into those tiny bodies in those dark wombs.

Leave a Reply