DNA Barcodes – Perhaps the Future Norm?

Here’s an idea that’s sure to spark controversy. What if we all had a specific barcode in a giant genetic database which identified us perfectly?

Sounds pretty sci-fi, right? Well, maybe not. The fact is, after the Human Genome Project (HGP) was completed in 2003, the genetic code for humans has been made available, to be read and interpreted for the entire global populace.

Of course, this isn’t your average night-time reading material. It’s a monstrous book of 3 billion letters and no words. But this document contains everything that makes us humans distinct from every other organism on the planet.

What’s so great about that, you ask? Well, ever since the completion of the HGP, controversy has spread like wildfire as to whether or not this information could lead to a new age of discrimination based on genetic data or even a kind of “gene terrorism” based on individual susceptibility to disease, much of which can be determined by the genetic code.

Today, across fifty nations, scientists have agreed to install a barcode system to catalogue species of plants on the planet. Naturally, this technology is being used to prevent illegal smuggling and for species identification, but what if we translate this to humans.

It’s definitely an interesting and possibly frightening prospect, but one has to remember that there are benefits. Imagine  if DNA barcoding systems at airports were in place as part of security measures. Disguises would be useless – and this could be very essential to prevent any violent confrontations where bystanders could be affected.

This could also come to affect personal freedoms and some may say we might turn socialist. Yes, there is a chance that such a thing could potentially happen. But then again, there is also a chance that I will inherit a fortune from a rich uncle in Dubai and live my days in a lavish mansion on a private island in the south Pacific. Don’t forget that the people who would be responsible would be part of our governments, and before we complain, guess who put them there?

Just remember one thing. As cool and scary as this seems, the media always blows it out of proportion. Apocalypse sells. People like to latch on to things that seem plausible and are not really true. I shall take this time to say that those people who are uneducated and believe that GE foods are an attempt to “play God” really mean to say that it is an attempt to “advance science and mankind.”

No, that has nothing to do with barcodes but hey it’s all genetics.

Graphic of a DNA sequence (Image: Science Photo Library)

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8346635.stm

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.