The Human Genome Project

The The human genome project has mapped Human DNA sequence in total. Of all the things that it tell us about our differences, it is what it tells us about our similarities that may prove most enlightening.

The Human DNA sequence has been mapped in total. Of all the things that it tell us about our differences, it is what it tells us about our similarities that may prove most enlightening.

One of the most interesting things about the DNA mapping of human beings is the fact that we are all unique individuals, yet we are so much alike. Human beings turn out to be over 99.99% the same. All the millions of genes that make up the genetic code of each person on earth the things that make us different are less than 1% of 1% of the genes. While marker genes can be used to identify an individual, it is interesting to see what DNA can't tell us.

One of the major concerns of DNA testing and cataloging was the risk to privacy. There was a fear that unscrupulous individuals could use DNA information to prove not only heredity, but also things such as race or ethnicity. It was thought that DNA could be used to prove claims of people to such things as Native American, or African American ancestry. Many feared that a new set of Hitler type dictators would be able to use the new scientific knowledge to identify and isolate individuals based on racial background. Debates raged on the possible ethical conflicts that might develop as a result of this new technology. A recent incident involving the possible slave offspring of a long dead president did a great deal to stir up the debate. However DNA testing is not a definitive answer in all cases.

While DNA can prove direct ancestry or linage, it can't prove race or ethnicity. The reason for this is that human beings are so much alike, and have had genetic mixtures for so long even the most defining racial or ethnic traits are found in almost every human family. Skin color, facial structure, hair and eye color, all things that are use to define race or ethnicity lose definition when traced as part of a DNA analyst. There is no gene that can accurately define an American Indian for instance, because many of the so-called defining characteristics are genetically identical to many Asians and African Americans. Even so-called ethnic diseases don't do much to identify individuals either. There are always exceptions that prove the rule doesn't hold up. Sickle Cell Anemia for example, thought to be a disease of Black individuals is found as a genetic trait and disease throughout the Mediterranean

Human DNA study shows that there is no "gene" or combination of genes that are absolute in predicting anything. While possible genes for aggressive behavior have been isolated, they are found in criminals, and successful businessmen alike. It seems the more we isolate and identify traits the more we have to take into account environmental factors to explain the diversity of outcomes.

What DNA does tell us is that we are so much alike, that only our individuality separates us. For every group assumption there are several exceptions that can be shown. While we can identify your ancestry, DNA tell us that we share so much in common that any two individuals on earth can trace some common ancestry in six generations or less.

Think of it this way, there are approximately 6 billion human beings living on earth at this very moment. They generally share the ability to learn a language within two years of birth. Although populating every biome on the planet, they can generally survive in anyone they are placed in. Means of reproduction, growth, and development are universal. Individuals have the same patterns of hair growth and loss, aging, and are anatomically and physiologically identical in form and function. They are susceptible to the same diseases and are treated by the same cures. DNA proves the commonality of Human origins, the structure of our individual bodies, and our ancestral linage.

The mapping of human DNA told us a lot of new things and confirmed a lot of what we already knew. It idenified how the human body functions and how we are made to function on a molecular level. The mapping of human genes has told us we are all more alike than we are different and what we share is more than supericial. What DNA can't tell us the effect of our environment on our development or what we as individuals can make of our abilities.

The mapping of human DNA is just the start of what might prove to be man's most interesting discovery, himself!

© Demand Media 2011