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To Know or Not to Know What Our Genes Predict About Our Future

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A researcher at biopharmaceutical company DeCode Genetics labels blood samples that are kept on ice. Image by Anna Clausen. Iceland, 2017.

A researcher at biopharmaceutical company DeCode Genetics labels blood samples that are kept on ice. Image by Anna Clausen. Iceland, 2017.

An Icelandic biopharmaceutical company says it can save hundreds of lives with the press of a button. The company maintains that it has the ability to map out every single Icelander who has a BRCA gene mutation.

Such mutations have been linked to a severely increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Knowing about the mutation gives carriers the opportunity potentially to save themselves from much suffering—and maybe even escape death.

There’s only one problem.

Pressing the button is illegal.