Only the wealthy can afford what is, now, around $350,000 for the kind of sequencing that can tell you if you have a disease-risk gene that can be passed on to kids. That's a Bentley.
Dan Stoicescu, a millionaire living in Switzerland - "I’d rather spend my money on my genome than a Bentley or an airplane."
Yet, oddly, not starving children or a cure for cancer. How positively everyman for him to think an airplane is too indulgent but a personal genome is a reasonable use of money. A high end luxury car, like a Bentley, could be passed along to kids, but not if you choose not to have them because of inherited risk. Expensive gene tests could mean wealthy people optimize their gene pool by not having children while poor people stick to hoping to hit the genetic Powerball.
Masses of people genetically suspect and then a wealthy elite of genetic superiors? It's like "Gattaca - The Series" but it takes a better science fiction writer than me to make that plausible.
Instead soon we'll have that Chevy Genome mentioned by James Watson in the NY Times. Not the things you see now about online DNA analysis - those are the science equivalent of X-ray glasses you used to see in the ad pages of comic books - but the real deal. As the technology improves the price will drop.
Obviously anyone paying $350,000 today is a self-indulgent sucker, just like if you pay $20 million for a space ride or $3000 for an Apple laptop - but early adopters who overpay make the industry worthwhile enough that prices can dome down. So Stoicescu is taking one for the team and someone else can take up the slack of those starving African kids.
Still, it's all a little ridiculous. Being able to see six billion bits that make up the genome won't tell you how to vary them enough to make a difference in your life.
“What the heck am I doing?” Mr. Stoicescu recalls wondering. “And how many children in Africa might have been fed?”Yeah, right. If he had actually thought that, he would never have spent the money.