Personal Genomes, Candidates, and the NYT

I was just poking around the NYT to read up on an article about the candidates’ health records (and lack of clarity around them all, essentially). Also on the homepage was an article about the release of a set of new personal genomes into the public arena (not the candidates’ genomes, of course–other folks). In the personal genomes article they state:

The project is as much a social experiment as a scientific one. “We don’t yet know the consequences of having one’s genome out in the open,” said George M. Church, a human geneticist at Harvard who is the project’s leader and one of its subjects. “But it’s worth exploring.”

It got me thinking about the consequences of candidates’ genomes. What if we had them? Can you even begin to imagine the questions about a candidate’s ancestry? Can you imagine the speculation (valid or not) about disease susceptibility? Can you imagine if there’s an error–and trying to get that corrected? Will Snopes have to offer a BLAST search?

Quite honestly, if I had the candidate’s DNA I would be poring all over it. I might even wildly speculate on stuff (like I’m doing here just reading these articles and conflating them).

Good lord–there are ridiculous rumors on birth location and citizenship of both Obama and McCain–never mind secrets of their DNA. Even facts, legal clarity, and documents don’t suppress this silliness. Can you imagine trying to explain the likelihood of heart disease based on an allele your candidate carries to your neighbors when you are canvassing??

Can you imagine the frantic Wikipedia editing of the candidate pages to add their alleles? Will Gene Wiki be ready for that? Will it be like horoscopes or your birthdate: famous people who carry your allele….?

I just had a glimpse of the future from the NYT homepage. And quite frankly I dread it. And I understand this stuff.

EDIT: The Wall Street Journal concurs with me, I think.

Gene Screen: Will We Vote Against a Candidate’s DNA?

Office Seekers May One Day Be Pressured to Disclose Genetic Test Results, Giving New Meaning to ‘the Body Politic’

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122539728499285289.html