The answer might not be you. In an era when the map of the human genome can be accessed by any professor with an Internet connection, the question becomes more crucial every day. Courts and lawyers and legislatures wrestle with it; people who joined medical studies wonder just what their participation means. Courts have ruled that people who donate actual tissue — pieces of organs, tumors or blood, for example — have no right to financial compensation if a drug or treatment is developed from research done on that tissue.
But DNA, which contains the genetic blueprint from which you were built, seems more personal, something whose fate you and you alone should have the right to control.
Oregon is the site of the most recent battle over the rights to DNA. The state’s 1995 genetic privacy law, one of the first in the nation, gives a person property rights to his or her own DNA. A proposed change to the law last year would have taken those rights away. An advisory committee is expected to offer recommendations to the governor next month on how to proceed.