Research Digest -- Genetics' Ethics

Gene panel reprieved after publick outcry as concern grows over screening.  

Companies marketing the genetic screening test for mutations, which possibly increase susceptibility to breast cancer, are arising unnecessary alarm and promising impossibilities, according to geneticists, bioethicists and other who took part in a forum on genetic testing held by Stanford University Program in Genomic, Ethics, and Society.

The European Commission last week postponed a decision on the approval of imports from the US of geneticall-modified maize.  

The decision to delay coincides with demonstrations across Europe by environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace against the import of genetically modified soya beans

An advisory committee to the NIH has recommended that genetic testing for breast cancer be conducted only within strictly defined research protocol.  

In adopting its position, the committee joins the American Society of Human Genetics, the Advisory Council of the National Center for Human Genome Research, and the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

In contrast, the American Society of Clinical Oncology has called for the testing outside the research program, as part of the preventive oncologic care.

European convention allows use of human embryos.  

However, the convention forbids the creation of human embryos for research.

In general, states the convention, any medical intervention may only be carried out on an individual who has given free and informed consent. It also forbids discrimination on grounds of genetic inheritance.

German physicians warn of genetics risks  

The German section of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War has called for a full debate in German parliament on the Council of Europe's proposed Bioethics Convention, claiming that it is not sufficiently restrictive on experiments involving embryos and on genetic screening, and fails to provide adequate protection for the mentally handicapped.

The demand for such debate was made at the meeting in Nuremberg held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Nuremberg trial.

The New Jersey state legislatiure gave approval to the bill outlawing genetic discrimination.  

The New Jersey state legislatiure gave approval to the bill outlawing genetic discrimination. It not only outlaws the use of genetic information to deny individuals jobs of health insurance, but also restricts how life and disability insurers may use this information.

Britain's House of Lords delivered its first legal judgement on genetic engineering patent  

The decision gave a significant boost to the efforts of the European biotechnology industry to limit the breadth of protection that can be claimed for a single invention or discovery

Genetic Privacy?  

The Genetic Privacy Bill had been approved by New Jersey legislature.

"The most important issue is to protect New Jersey residents from genetic discrimination," says Steven Andreasesen, a legislative aide to a key Senate backer of the bill (Republican).

The republican governor of NJ, Christine Todd Whitman, issued a conditional veto of the bill.

Bioethics group finds no objection to human gene patent  

A group of ethics advisers to the European Commission in Brussels says that it has found no ethical reasons why a human gene should not be patented if it can be shown that it has a function with a specific industrial application

The Case of the Missing Mineral  

• You probably think getting enough iron is the last thing you have to worry about. You are wrong.
• Meat, poultry, and fish are the most widely available and efficient sources of dietary iron.
• Vegans and others can avoid shifting to meat by emphasizing beans
• Avoid coffee and tea (decaf too) with meals. They contain tannins that wash away much of the absorbable iron.

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