The Nuffield Trust Genetics Scenario Project published a report on the impact of genetics on health and health policy last week. It calls for new genetic technology to be regulated in such a way that is 'sufficiently light-touch to maximise the potential benefits, but robust enough to protect the public'.
The document, entitled 'Genetics and Health', summarises the findings of eight workshops organised by the Genetics Scenario Project last year. Groups of stakeholders - health professionals, patients, policy makers, ethicists and medical geneticists - were asked for their views on the issues raised by the growing use of genetic technology in medicine.
Dr Ron Zimmern, who co-authored the report, said that the impact of advances in genetics on health and healthcare will be enormous. 'We ask that the UK government should take a lead in developing a policy framework that would provide a context within which scientific developments in genetics and their clinical and public health applications might be assessed' he said.
The Nuffield Trust plans to hold a meeting later this year, aimed at forming an action plan based on the findings of the report.
Meanwhile, in the USA, Vice President Al Gore said last week he will push to ban businesses and health plans from discriminating against workers who find through genetic testing that they are likely to get cancer and other diseases. Earlier this year, President Clinton banned government agencies from using genetic test results to deny jobs or promotion to their workers.