GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch UK response to the Human Genetics Commission's 'Genes Direct' report.

Wednesday 9th April, 2003 - For immediate release

GeneWatch UK criticised today’s new proposals on the regulation of human genetic tests as "a triumph of spin over substance".

The Government’s advisors, the Human Genetics Commission (HGC), today recognised that genetic test results could "be misused as a powerful marketing tool by unscrupulous companies in support of misleading claims or in order to promote the buying of expensive and unnecessary dietary supplements or medicines". But the Commission has opposed creating a regulator with the necessary powers to stop misleading sales (1).

"The HGC’s proposals are weak and ineffective," said Dr Helen Wallace, Deputy Director of GeneWatch UK. "They simply hope that most genetic tests are sold through doctors and independently assessed - but they recommend no real controls to make this happen."

GeneWatch has warned repeatedly that some genetic tests sold last year in Body Shop stores and others sold more recently via alternative health practitioners are misleading and unethical (2).

"Claiming to tailor products or advice to your genetic make-up is the latest marketing scam," said Dr Wallace. "At best, these tests are an expensive con and tell you nothing meaningful about your health. They can also be misleading or be a ploy to sell you medicines or supplements you do not need."

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For further information contact:

Helen Wallace on 01298 871898.

Notes to editors:

  1. Human Genetics Commission, "Genes Direct", 9 April 2003.
  2. GeneWatch UK, "Regulating Human Genetic Tests: Ten Key Questions", April 2003, available on:

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