For immediate release: Monday 14th March 2005
GeneWatch UK warned that todays new voluntary agreement between insurers and the Government is not sufficient to prevent genetic discrimination (1).
"This agreement is a cop out by ministers, who have failed yet again to adopt a principle against genetic discrimination. It prevents insurers using most genetic test results, but only for another five years," said Dr Helen Wallace, Deputy Director of GeneWatch UK. "People making the difficult decision whether to take a genetic test need to know that the results will never be used against them in the future. They should not have to think about the impacts on insurance or their job".
The main limitations of the new agreement are (2):
- it does not remove uncertainty for people taking predictive genetic tests, who will still not know whether they will be refused insurance after 2011;
- it does not prevent employers seeking access to genetic test results.
"If the Government was serious about preventing genetic discrimination it would introduce new legislation to stop insurers and employers using genetic tests to decide who gets insurance or a job," said Dr Wallace.
For further information please contact:
Dr Helen Wallace on 01298-871898 (office) or 07903-311584 (mobile).
Notes to editors:
- The Department of Healths press release is available on: http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/PressReleases/fs/en
- Many European countries, including Denmark, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Sweden, have laws banning insurers from using predictive genetic test results for all or most policies. The US senate has recently passed legislation that seeks to bar both insurers and employers seeking access to such information (see the TUCs website: http://www.hazards.org/genescreen ).
Further information on genetic discrimination is available at:
The Mill House
Derbyshire SK17 8LN
Ph: 01298 871898
Fax: 01298 872531