Genetic testing: the need for a legal frameworkComments Off on Genetic testing: the need for a legal framework

Genetic testing has proved to be an important tool to assess an individual’s health. It can bring important advantages to society; however, it can also lead to social discrimination.
At a Conference on genetics organised by the European Commission and the Socialist Mutual Health Fund of Belgium in Brussels on 24 and 25 March, experts stressed the importance to legislate to keep genetic testing in the medical realm.
Evidence has shown that genetic testing has already appeared in the workplace, both in Europe and in the US, to select prospective employees. There is the possibility that testing could also be introduced in the areas of life insurance and bank loans, with potentially discriminatory consequences.
Participants highlighted that only specialist teams should be entitled to carry out tests, and these must be reliable and relevant. Moreover, data has to be confidential and must not be disclosed to private health insurances.
As this is an ongoing debate, the European Commission is organising another conference on the social, ethical and legal aspects of human genetic testing in research and healthcare applications, to take place in Brussels on 6 and 7 May 2004.
More information on the 24 and 25 March Conference
More information on the 6 and 7 May Conference
The 25 recommendations on the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic testing made by the European Commission’s Expert Group
European Commission’s Article 29 Data Protection Working Party Working Document on Genetic Data