31 March 2005: For immediate release
Response to the Human Genetics Commission/National Screening Committee report "Profiling the Newborn"
GeneWatch UK welcomed today's joint report from the Human Genetics Commission and the National Screening Committee, which considers whether every baby should have its DNA profile taken and stored at birth (1). The proposal, made in the Government's White Paper on genetics in June 2003 (2) has been rejected as too costly, of too little benefit and as raising ethical concerns.
"This bottom line is that the Government's proposal was always bad for health. Genes are poor predictors of most illnesses, so most children would get misleading information about their genetic risk" said Dr Helen Wallace, Deputy Director of GeneWatch UK. "There would also be a danger of discrimination and of misuse of DNA samples for surveillance by the Government or police".
GeneWatch also called for a more realistic Government appraisal of the role of genetics in health.
"Ministers are still basing genetics policy on science fantasy," said Dr Wallace, "Most diseases in most people depend much more on social and environmental factors. Better school dinners are much more important for most children than genetic testing" (3).
Dr Helen Wallace on 01298-871898 (office) or 07903-311584 (mobile).
Notes for Editors:
- Available on: http://www.hgc.gov.uk/Client/news_item.asp?NewsId=38 .
- The White Paper "Our inheritance, our future" is available on: http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/01/92/39/04019239.pdf . The proposal is at paragraphs 3.36 to 3.38.
- The GeneWatch briefing "Bar-coding babies: good for health?" (August 2004) is available on: http://www.genewatch.org/Publications/Briefs/brief27.pdf .