A new report by Friends of the Earth (FoE) claims that advances in genetic technology could trigger a host of lawsuits against companies that make industrial chemicals. The document, entitled 'Crisis in Chemicals', predicts that by 2010, 'research into the human genome will have radically improved our understanding of what chemicals do to the human body'. People vary in their response to different chemicals and drugs, partly as a result of differences in their genetic make-up. FoE says that once scientists have identified these variations, chemical manufacturers could face a host of lawsuits, filed by people who believe they have been affected by particular chemicals in their work or home environment.
'Companies that fail to clean up their act will face a heavy bill' said Michael Warhurst, author of the report. 'The biomedical revolution is now underway. Industry, governments and the financial sector cannot ignore it.' FoE claim that the current regulatory system for chemicals and factory emissions is deeply flawed, and requires restructuring. The government welcomed the report, saying it had made some useful recommendations for new European legislation on chemicals that the government would 'consider carefully'.
But the Chemicals Industry Association, which represents more than 200 companies, dismissed the findings of the report as 'scare stories'. 'The chemicals industry is already heavily regulated' said a spokesman.
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Gene project 'will unleash lawsuits'