Myths, misconceptions and myopia: searching for clarity in the debate about the regulation of consumer genetics.
Public health genomics 2010; 13(5): 322-6
The new wave of companies offering genome scans direct-to-consumer (DTC) has prompted commentary from scientists, clinicians, bioethicists and those interested in the ethical, legal and social issues arising from genomics. It has thus brought a far wider range of actors into a longstanding debate about the regulation of genetic tests. However, some of the recent discussion is characterised by misunderstanding of the regulatory landscape, a failure to grasp the lessons of the past and lack of clarity of thought. In this commentary I challenge a series of myths and misconceptions which plague current academic and policy discussion: the conflation of regulation and proscription; the failure to recognise that DTC companies are gatekeepers; the assumption that requiring a medical intermediary for testing is paternalistic; the belief that online services cannot be regulated; the presumption that we must avoid genetic exceptionalism; the idea that policy is lagging behind science or that it is too soon to act; and finally, the view that DTC genetics is a reality we have to adapt to.
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