1.6 GENETICS, POLITICS AND LAW.
Genetics impacts on all aspect of our live with food production and health being just two of the most important. Recently, genetic has moved front and centre in several area of government and law . the U.S food and drug administration and the U.S department of agriculture have been involved for years in regulating the use of mutagenic chemicals and radioactive substances. With recent revelations of horrendous pollution of the environment by toxic chemical and radioactivity, it is very clear that governments must do a much better job of regulating the use of these dangerous substances. This will only happen if we elect government officials who are knowledgeable of the magnitude of the dangers involved and who will take the actions required to protect the public and all other forms of life as well.
A second arena in which genetics now plays an integral roles is patent law. The successes of genetic engineering have refocused attention on the question of whether living organisms should be patentable and, if so, within what limits? Plant varieties have been patented for many years with no major controversy, but what about bacteria that have been genetically engineered to degrade chemical pollutants or to make foreign growth hormone? Should they be patentable? The courts have ruled that they are indeed subject to patent protection. The practices of patent law should be a lucrative profession for years to come, and patent lawyers with a background in genetics and molecular biology should be in particularly strong demand. Criminal law is another arena in which the spot light new focuses on genetics. Human ’’DNA prints’’ “or ’’DNA fingerprints’’ are known to posses’ greater specificity by several orders of magnitude than human fingerprints. ’’DNA prints’’ now provide a powerful new tools for establishing identity or non identity in paternity ,rape, and assault cases, as well as all other identity cases where tissue sample might be available linking a criminal to the crime. The DNA printing” approach has become particularly powerful with the recent development of techniques by which small amount of DNA can be extensively amplified in vitro. This allows “DNA prints” to be made even when only very minute amounts of tissue are available.