Insuring Genetic Privacy

Genetic testing is a powerful tool that currently can reveal important information about an individual's health. But the information is very limited because of our incomplete understanding of the human genome. Once researchers figure out the functions of all our genes, they'll be able to develop genetic profiles of our individual tendency to develop disease or suffer from a syndrome. Genetic testing will provide a pretty accurate picture of your health over our life span, and that's powerful information.

A very important question then becomes who has access to that information? If, for instance, your genetic profile shows you are prone to heart disease, an insurance company could refuse to give you health coverage. Employers could use the information as a basis for selecting employees, instead of relying on traditional tools like interviews and resumes. Colleges could base their acceptance practices on genetic profiles. So who has a right to the information and who doesn't?

As science moves ahead and genetic testing becomes more sophisticated and complete, it will be very important to debate who will have access to our genetic information.

See also:

http://www.ornl.gov/hgmis/resource/keefer.html


Explore More: Genetic Engineering
Copyright 2004, Iowa Public Television
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