March 5, 2012
This is part one of a series of articles that will cover and expose
the Humane Genome Project.
On February 2nd and 3rd of 2012, President
Obama’s Bioethics Commission for the Study of Bioethical
Issues convened a conference to discuss two rather solemn
This was one of many such meetings and
its contents are publicly
available at the bioethics.gov website.
There was such a vast abundance of issues raised and covered in this
conference that it is going to require a series of articles to cover
and disseminate all of the issues, concerns and information that
were discussed and this article will be the first one of the series.
The issue of Human Genome Sequencing (HGS) has been a topic
of public debate for many years. It is perhaps one of the most
under-discussed scientific developments of our time and there are
extremely valid arguments on the sides of both supporters and
One of the primary problems concerning HGS science and research is
undoubtedly the lack of public education, interest and comprehension
about it and this “lack” was really illuminated as I listened to the
minutes of the meeting’s webcasts.
There are so many explosive implications of the sequencing of human
genomic data that need to be thoroughly vetted, that the
participation of a properly informed public in this debate is
So with that in mind, we will trace HGS back to its roots so that we
may understand how this scientific process came about, and do so in
It would be reasonable to assume that the mapping of the human
genome would have been a project that was embarked upon by the
private sector scientific community, perhaps with some public
funding involved, but a work nonetheless for the private sector. But
I was both shocked and rather disturbed to find out that this was
absolutely not the case with the pioneering effort to map the human
genome known as the “Human Genome Project” (HGP).
Now I consider myself to be a relatively informed individual and I
have previously done a little bit of poking around about the
Human Genome Project (HGP) but suffice it to say, my
understanding was minimal, particularly in regard to its origins.
This is a category that I believe most of the public falls into… a
very basic general awareness with very little actual (and
As this article will illustrate, this is a dangerously disadvantaged
position to be in when we are talking about a topic as serious as
the mapping of your very genetic constitution… the essence of whom
you really are, if you will.
So how did the Human Genome
Project get off the ground and who was the ‘grand arbiter’
of this Herculean scientific undertaking?
Would you be surprised,
disturbed even, to know that the entity behind the Human
Genome Project is the U.S. Department of Energy? I certainly
My immediate thoughts were,
‘what in the world does the DoE have to do with the Human
Genome’ and why isn’t this a more prominent topic of
The menacing aspects of this story are
so numerous that they cannot possibly be quantified in either a
single article or a series of articles and indeed need the kind of
space and investigative study that would go into the work of writing
of a book, but we will seek to cover some of the more pertinent
bullet points here.
Many reasons are cited for the decision to relegate this project to
the Department of Energy.
The rationale really grew out of
programs that predate the DoE, namely, the research programs done by
the Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
which were the preceding two agencies to the DoE that were tasked
with researching the effects of energy production, by-products and
energy based weapons in regard to human genetics. (More information
can be found in an article titled “The Genome Project; Why the DoE?”)
That earlier work and the ongoing works of the DoE are responsible
for some of the most egregious and destructive “fruits” known to
“Fruits” such as,
...just to name a few of their many
deleterious programs and undertakings.
When I first learned that the Bioethics Commission was going to be
discussing issues of ethics, privacy and access related to the human
genome, one of my main concerns was government access to such
sensitive (and I mean sensitive in some of the most potentially
dangerous ways imaginable) and personal information.
A person need only peruse through a grade school history book to
find that governments have an absolutely horrifying history filled
with genocide, eugenics, human rights abuses and abominations,
unrivaled theft, wild abuses of power and every other imaginable
One need not be a “paranoid conspiracy theorist” to come to this
conclusion, as almost every dominant empire in history has fallen as
a result of their own internal aberrancies.
Indeed our very own United States
Government seems hell bent on self-destructing and has its own
nauseating criminal history of the same kinds of horrors.
Naturally, given the track record of the DoE, which is littered with
concerns about some of the most serious human rights abuses that
confront humanity, learning that they are behind a project as
sensitive as the HGP was kind of like having a bucket of cold water
poured over my head.
As I previously stated, the primary issue I wanted to hear addressed
in these meetings was how to keep this kind of information from
being accessed and used by the government for nefarious purposes and
as such, the topic of privacy was of pivotal importance.
As we will discuss in a future article in this series, the biggest
threat to contend with along these lines, would of course be the
access and misuse of Human Genome Sequencing Data by the military,
the potential horrors of which boggle the mind and would most
certainly redefine “terrorism.”
So here we are, on the cusp of a scientific and medical revolution
that opens up an array of benefits and consequences that are
virtually infinite in number.
A revolution that has already garnered too much momentum to
reconsider, and one which most would assume was being forged by the
medical and scientific communities for the “betterment of humanity”
since it’s usually presented to the public in that light, but in
fact has been put into motion by a cabinet-level department of the
government that is notorious for it’s role in working with the
military for the creation of some of the most destructive weapons
development initiatives ever created.
And now they are looking to create a database of complete individual
genomes with intentions of working with the “global community” so
that use and access by the global community at large, can be
facilitated as was discussed by Dr. Jane Kaye, UK director of
the HeLEX program at Oxford, which focuses on Biobanks and Global
Data Sharing, over the course of the meetings. (We will get into
the issues of this kind of “global data sharing” in light of
nationalized healthcare and the privacy implications involved, in
our next article.)
Never in the history of the human race has there been a greater need
for an in-depth level of education and comprehension by the public
about an issue that will affect each and every one of us, and more
importantly, our progeny.
We have a solemn responsibility to ourselves, our children and the
future of humanity, to throw off the blanket of ignorance we’ve all
been sleeping cozily under while this looming crisis has developed.
A crisis which if not handled thoughtfully, soberly, properly, could
result in the kind of irresponsible science that until now has lived
mainly in the realm of mythology.