In this week's Scrubbing Up Dr Ainsley Newson, senior lecturer in biomedical ethics at the University of Bristol, says that companies offering genetic testing for money should be more regulated.
She says that genome sequencing could offer useful predictions of our future health and susceptibility to disease, helping us better control our health. However, it could also give inaccurate information. She also voices concern that such sensitive information could be available to third parties. Questions are also raised as to whether babies and young children should be tested.
What do you think? Here are some of the comments you have been sending in to this week's Scrubbing up.
Consumer protection consists of ensuring that any advertising is not misleading, and what is advertised is what is provided. Mandating additional medical services is paternalism, pure and simple. It is also indicative of the restrictive practices mentality built into the UK health care system. However, I agree the question of who owns the data, and what they may do with it, is an area that needs legal definition, as with any private data collected by commercial organisations.
Rob, Cheltenham Gloucestershire
I was diagnosed via genetic tests three years ago with CADASIL, a devastating brain disease. Six months ago I was told the original genetic test was incorrect! Can you imaging what the past years have been like?
Stephen Knight, Newcastle UK
It comes down to privacy. If I don't want it known, then no one, not even my doctor, should have access to private information about me. The state has no right to control or even know private personal information. Such information should absolutely be under the control of the individual and people should be educated to know what they can do with genetic information.
Matthew Stannard, London, UK
How soon will it be before companies will require you to supply a DNA sample for whole genome sequencing? Employees selected for their resistance to harmful chemicals etc? The science may not be sound (nature versus nurture) the selection process unethical. But when has that ever stopped a Corporation implementing something it wants? Perhaps giving a GP control gives more legal protection than an individual would have?
Peter, London UK
The consumer should be in control of the knowledge in association with educated advisors (maybe doctors). Only the consumer ultimately has the interest and time to pursue the interpretation of personal genetic testing results. Amusing point: When individual whole genome sequencing is cost effectively available, insurance companies will insist you are tested before granting life policies. If you are issued with a policy you will know there is little or no risk so you don't need the insurance!
Paul Aspinall, Cheslyn Hay, England
Doctors should own the knowledge but with protection built in for the consumer. Doctors will need to interpret the results and inform their patients of the implications of the results. Right now there is a simplistic tendency to blame everything on your genes.
This is wrong as all the evidence shows the vast majority of your genes simply set the upper and lower limits of whatever impact the environmental factors present will have. For example people become obese because they eat too much not because of their genes, some will become more obese than others. Smokers get lung cancer because they smoke, some do not. Doctors can help patients change their environmental risk factors to accommodate their fixed genetic risk factors.
Rob Pinnock, Cambridge UK
As the technology advances, it won't be long before those with criminal intent uses poor data security to plant genetic evidence at a crime scene. All they'll need to do is obtain someone's DNA, fabricate a tiny skin sample, then place it in a suitable location, thus implicating an innocent person of the crime.