Legal-and-Ethical-Considerations-in-Genetic-Testing-in-the-Workplace.doc

Legal-and-Ethical-Considerations-in-Genetic-Testing-in-the-Workplace.doc

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Fall 2001/ Genetic Testing/ 53 LEGAL AND ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN GENETIC TESTING IN THE WORKPLACE C. W. V ON B ERGEN * P AMELA E VERS ** B ARLOW S OPER *** “We used to think our fate is in our stars. Now we know, in large measure, our fate is in our genes.” 1 --James D. Watson, DNA co-discoverer I. I NTRODUCTION The blueprint for building and operating a fully functional human being is contained within the genetic code, deoxyribonucleic acid, which is abbreviated as DNA. 2 DNA determines basic physical characteristics such as configuration of limbs and internal organs, as well as traits unique to particular individuals such as body structure, hair and eye color. In addition to determining unique physical factors, recent research shows that many less tangible characteristics have significant heritable components, including general intelligence, aptitudes, personality, interests, and even job satisfaction and overall happiness. 3 During the same week in June 2000 two different teams of scientists declared that they had assembled a rough draft of the entire human genome, some 3.1 billion biochemical "letters" of human DNA. Francis Collins, the director of the National 1 * Associate Professor of Management and Marketing, Southeastern Oklahoma State University ** Assistant Professor of Business Law, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. *** Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences, Louisiana Tech University Leon Jaroff, The Gene Hunt , T IME , Mar. 20, 1989, at 62 –67 ( quoting James D. Watson). 2 The acronym DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule that encodes the genetic blueprints of all living creatures on earth. See James D. Watson & Francis H. Crick, Genetical Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid . 171 N ATURE 964 (1953). See also Frederic Golden & Michael D. Lemonick, The Men Who Mapped the Genome , T IME , July 3, 2000, at 18-31. 3 Richard D. Arvey & Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., Genetics, Twins, and Organization Behavior . 16 R ES . O RG . B EHAV . 47-82 (1994); Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., Genetic Influence on Mental Abilities, Personality, Vocational Interests, and Work Attitudes , 12 I NT L R EV . I NDUS . & O RG . P SYCHOL . , 373-95 (1997).
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54 /Vol. 11/Southern Law Journal Human Genome Research Institute, and Craig Venter, the Chief Executive Officer of Celera Genomics, joined President Clinton at a press conference to announce their completion of the first map of the human genome. "Today… marks an historic point in the 100,000-year record of humanity," declared Venter. "Our species can read the chemical letters of its genetic code." Collins was equally effusive: "Today, we celebrate the revelation of the first draft of the human book of life.…We have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God." 4 With such a simple proclamation, the Century of Physics passed and we entered what may be the Century of Biology.
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