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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 20:13 GMT
ITV accused over 'gene test' show
Toby Anstis
Radio and TV celebrity Toby Anstis took part in the programme
Geneticists have made an official complaint to the regulator Ofcom about last week's ITV programme Killer in Me.

The programme followed four celebrities who were offered genetic screening tests to discover their risks of serious illnesses such as cancer.

The British Society for Human Genetics accuses the broadcaster of failing to provide any information about the scientific validity of gene tests.

ITV said the criticisms against the programme were misdirected.

Dr Rob Elles, chairman of the BSHG said in the letter of complaint: "The BSHG is concerned that the uncritical journalistic and broadcasting standards demonstrated in this programme risk undermining the confidence of the public in the application of genetics, which has great potential to improve healthcare.

It never claimed the tests would act as a guaranteed diagnosis of illness
ITV spokesman

"The programme could have shown the balance between the benefits of health advice, against the potential harm following assurances given to the clients that they were at low risk of particular health conditions."

The tests, say the BSHG, are "unsubstantiated and unvalidated" as a way of discovering who will and will not develop the illnesses being tested for.

ITV is also accused of providing "undeclared advertising" for the company, without giving the audience sufficient detail or discussion to allow viewers to understand the content of the programme.

Lifestyle factor

An ITV spokesman said: "The key criticisms of our programme appear to be misdirected.

"It was about the journeys of four celebrities facing the dilemma of finding out only the genetic likelihood of developing certain conditions.

"It never claimed the tests would act as a guaranteed diagnosis of illness and the importance of environmental and lifestyle factors in developing illness was made abundantly clear throughout."

He added that the broadcaster was confident the programme complied with the Ofcom broadcasting code.

Ofcom confirmed that it had received one complaint about Killer in Me.

A spokeswoman said: "We will consider it in relation to our code and decide whether to take the matter any further."

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