The Human Genome


A genome is all the DNA of an organism or species.

In 2001, the Human Genome Project published a working draft of the sequence of bases in human cells. Work continues to identify specific genes and establish their function.

Part of the budget for the HGP has been set aside to address the ethical, legal and social issues which may arise from the project:


  • Should health insurance companies have access to information about genetic predisposition of potential clients to particular conditions?
  • When, and on whom should predisposition tests be carried out?
  • Who keeps this information confidential?
  • Should scientists have the right to patent particular sequences?
  • How will treatment made possible by the project be paid for?
  • Is it acceptable to destroy embryos found to contain mutant genes?
  • Is it acceptable to select embryos on the basis of desirable characteristics?
  • Inserting genes into embryos (germ line gene therapy) presents many risks
  • Should genes be transferred between species for transplantation purposes?