The UK Consumers' Association and GeneWatch UK, an independent genetics watchdog, have welcomed a decision by 13 of the UK's largest high-street retailers not to sell genetic test kits for use at home by the public. Boots, Waitrose, John Lewis, Holland and Barrett and Marks and Spencers are among the companies who have said they will not sell the kits.
Over-the-counter genetic tests made by the UK company Sciona are already on sale via the internet, and have been trialled in a number of Body Shop stores across the UK. The kits, called 'You and Your Genes', provide a swab to gather cells from the inside of the mouth, which is then sent off for analysis by Sciona, who test for variations in nine different genes. In conjunction with a detailed lifestyle questionnaire, Sciona can offer 'lifestyle guidance' to consumers.
The Consumers' Association and GeneWatch believe that the tests can be misleading and have called upon the UK Government to regulate their use, while asking the Body Shop not to sell the tests again. But Sciona, in a press release, said its reports 'do not provide information on the future risks of developing serious diseases', and claims it has always cooperated fully and openly with the Human Genetics Commission, the UK Government advisory body on human genetics.
Helen Wallace, deputy director of GeneWatch, welcomed the retailers' decision, saying that 'these retailers are way ahead of ministers in recognising the potential downsides of these products. The Government's failure to regulate tests leaves people very vulnerable to misleading claims. Genetic test results can lead to unnecessary worry and misleading reassurance about people's risk of future illness and the action they should take.'
Sources and References
High street shops ban sale of gene tests
High-street stores reject Sciona's human genetic testing