Does personalized genomics pit privacy against ethics?

John Timmer writes:

Today’s issue of Nature contains the latest milestone on the road to personal genomics, as researchers are reporting the complete sequencing of the genomes of two more people, one Asian, one Yoruban. The sequencing was done relatively quickly and cheaply using a technique that didn’t even exist when Bill Clinton presided over the announcement that the first human genome was done. In light of this and other technological developments, which are bringing genomic information within reach of more of the population, the journal has taken the opportunity to consider its implications: how do we safeguard this information, and how do we use it ethically?

Nature has made two commentaries available to the public for a month, and is hosting an opinion forum for others to discuss the issues raised by them. Both perspectives focus on different aspects of a single tension: genomic information is incredibly personal, and therefore worthy of protection, yet we, both individually and as a society, get more out of it when that information is publicly available.

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