Genomics and Society

Genomics holds great promise, but it also confronts us with new questions.

Genomics has made rapid advancements over the past decades, yet there are still many questions to which scientists seek answers. Past experience has shown that society has genuine concerns over how biotechnology may impact our healthcare, food safety and quality, and the environment.

It is important to keep genomics in the public consciousness as the science evolves. It is equally important to integrate stakeholder input into the research to identify societal needs and acceptable applications of these technologies.

The more informed society is on the challenges it faces, the more it will prosper. Providing all citizens with fact based information and presenting the pros and cons of evolving technologies is required for the kind of thoughtful decision-making needed to develop and inform policy that will help realize the benefits of genomics.

We believe research beyond the application of genomics to a specific project or product, is as important as the genomics research itself. For example, the study of the societal impacts of genomics has always been a required component in Genome Canada’s large-scale applied research project funding.

In addition, Genome BC has developed its own unique programs to address this important area of research — genomics and the ethical, economic, environmental, legal and societal implications (commonly referred to as GE3LS).

Societal issues in genomics

Genome BC is committed to driving the responsible use of genomics in order to advance knowledge and ensure that genomics benefits society as a whole. We believe in sharing fair and balanced information around the ethical, environmental, economical, legal, and societal aspects of genomics research. The information provided below is intended to help people better understand this transformative science and the issues that may have implications in society.

sector_ico_Tech_trans Technology

What is eDNA? DNA left behind from living organisms that is collected from soil, water, snow, air and other environments. The DNA is matched with primers, acting as fingerprints to...

sector_ico_Tech_trans Technology

What is synthetic biology? Synthetic biology is a relatively new and rapidly evolving interdisciplinary area of scientific research that focuses on the design and fabrication of bi...

sector_ico_Fisheries_trans Fisheries/Aquaculture

What is aquaculture? Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. It is, basically, farming in water. The main types o...

sector_ico_Environment_trans Environment

What are biosolids? Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic materials recovered during the treatment of wastewater or sewage. Biosolids undergo regulated physical, chemical, and biolog...

sector_ico_Health_trans Health

What is a microbiome? A microbiome is the microbial community associated with an animal, plant or other host or with a terrestrial, aquatic or other ecosystem. Microbiomes include ...

sector_ico_Health_trans Health

What is pharmacogenomics? Pharmacogenomics is the science that studies the role of the genome (the complete set of genes in an organism) related to an individual’s response to a ...

sector_ico_Health_trans Health

What is gene therapy? Gene therapy involves using genes to cure or prevent disease. Most treatments for genetic diseases can only address the symptoms, but the hope for gene therap...

sector_ico_Environment_trans Environment

What is climate change? Climate change presents a potentially devastating threat to humans and many other species on Earth. Surviving this threat requires immediate and long-term e...

sector_ico_GenomicsSociety_trans Genomics and Society

What is genetic discrimination? Genetic discrimination occurs when people are treated differently because they have a gene mutation that causes or increases the risk of a hereditar...

sector_ico_Health_trans Health

What is GMO? GMOs are organisms whose DNA has been altered by genetic engineering. When scientists generate GMOs, they combine existing pieces of DNA in new ways to give an organis...

sector_ico_Health_trans Health

What is gene editing? Gene editing involves removing, and sometimes replacing, individual genes or part of genes using “molecular scissors.” Gene editing can achieve much great...

sector_ico_Health_trans Health

What is DTC testing? DTC testing, also known as at-home genetic testing, refers to genetic tests available directly to consumers without the involvement of a health care profession...

sector_ico_GenomicsSociety_trans Genomics and Society

What is genetic testing? Genetic testing examines DNA or proteins to identify anomalies linked to particular diseases, or to determine ancestry, paternity or ethnicity. How is the ...