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September 10 2013

Human genome sequencing: the real ethical dilemmas


Good science fiction always tries to be thought-provoking about the present, not just the future. Rarely has this been accomplished as successfully as in Andrew Nicoll's movie Gattaca. Released in 1997, just as the sequencing of the human genome neared completion, this dystopian vision portrayed a world divided by DNA. Power and prestige are the preserve of "valids" with ideal genomes, while the genomic flaws of the "in-valids" mark them out as a genetic underclass. It immediately became an influential frame for the ethics of a nascent technology as it emerged into public view.

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