DNA is so tiny, only a few microns across, that we often don’t spend much time thinking about how much of our most personal and private information it contains. Yet each individual’s DNA also offers an intimate look into family history, risk for illness, behavior, internal clock, propensity for thrill seeking, and countless other aspects of a person’s life, personality, behavior, and place in the world. Accessing this treasure trove of genetic information has some amazing benefits, but it also comes with some serious concerns.
While DNA may be small, it’s packed with information that has the potential to cause some pretty big problems. Uncontrolled access to this information, whether in a medical or law enforcement setting, could set individuals up for violations of privacy and discrimination, and as genetic testing becomes more common and inexpensive, the issues surrounding the protection of genetic information will become ever more pressing concerns in the larger public discourse.