Need For European Legislation To Prevent Misuse Of Genetic Information – Prendergast

Labour MEP for Munster Phil Prendergast today highlighted the need for Europe-wide legislation to prevent the misuse of genetic information by insurance companies and other parties.
Ms. Prendergast co-hosted a conference yesterday with Marian Harkin MEP on genetic discrimination in the European Parliament in Brussels. The conference focussed on the merits of adopting US-style legislation to tackle genetic discrimination across the 27 EU Member-States.
Speaking from Brussels, Ms. Prendergast said “Scientific advancements in the area of genetics bring considerable advantages, particularly where patient care is concerned. However, these advancements also pose ethical, legal and moral questions to policymakers about who should be given access to discreet genetic information.
“I would be very wary of the risk that this information could be used by insurance companies, mortgage companies, banks and other organisations to discriminate against individuals who have so-called ‘genetic defects’.
“I was horrified to read that some English Premier League clubs began genetically testing players so as to weed out those whom they perceive to have a higher pre-disposition to injury. On the face of it, this is discrimination, and that is before you even get to the privacy concerns it raises.
“I do not think the current patchwork of laws across Europe provides sufficiently effective protection of this information. There is a need for Europe-wide legislation, modelled on the Genetic Discrimination Non Discrimination Act (GINA) 2008 in the United States, which would protect all those involved.
“The US legislation prevents discrimination in health and employment insurance on the basis of genetic information. Such an approach would be very welcome in the EU.”

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