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Kids on Genomes

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While members of the genomics community argue daily over patents, stock value, and who gets credit for what, ideals tend to get glossed over. In the responses to a youth essay contest, we found some words of wisdom (and humor) from people young enough to see things as they could be.

These excerpts were taken with permission from winning essays in the People’s Genome Celebration Youth Essay Contest, responding to the question: “How is the sequencing of the human genome relevant to you?”

The Human Genome Project is a revolutionary frontier in medicine that expands the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all people.… With all of the new information to be released world wide from the Human Genome Project, the business possibilities seem endless for developing agriculture products that will create a world which is no longer hungry.

— Brandon Rickertsen, Bryan, Iowa, 8th grade

Understanding the human genome shifts our medical attention from treating mere symptoms and alleviating pain, to discovering and isolating the root cause of certain diseases, thereby paving the way for preventative medicine and possibly even cures.

— Melissa Reyes, Longwood, Fla., 11th grade

Small things, for example, genetic fingerprinting, can make our everyday lives easier. Whether you are hassled over proper identification or you go the the MAC machine and forget your credit card, the human genome can help you avert these hassles.

— Shan Gaur, Bethel Park, Pa., 9th grade

Minority groups around the world might use this information to obtain freedom with arguments such as, ‘We are 99.9% like you, what gives you the right to oppress us?’

— Zachary Loveless, Northville, NY, 10th grade

Our duty is to use the code ethically right and value life and diversity. We have to remember that just like every computer program asks the user to accept the command before deleting information on the hard drive or a disk, similarly we are the ones that press the OK button when the human genome is in our hands.

— Liisa-Ida Sorsa, Hämeenkyrö, Finland, 12th grade

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