Testing our genes
Genetic diagnostics, genetic testing carried out on not only sick but also on healthy people, can become a reality in the course of the next few years. The ethical, societal and economical consequences of this emerging reality will be discussed by lay people, experts, and politicians on a consensus conference at the Danish Parliament from May 24th- 27th 2002.With the aid of a DNA-chip, it will soon be possible to check adults and fetuses for all known genetic disorders. It will then be possible to determine quickly whether a particular person is - or will be - predisposed to hereditary illness. And when this possibility becomes available, it will also be in great demand.
The technology gives rise to two important ways of presenting the problem involving a potential conflict of interests between the individual and the society:
1) How are we going to wield the knowledge/information that genetic diagnostics will be supplying to the individual person, to his/her family and to the society as a whole - Who is to be informed? Should registers be compiled? Who will be allowed access to the information?
2) How are we to go about assigning priorities to the use of genetic diagnoses within the health sector? Should everyone have access to the testing, or only those people whom we have reason to suspect might be genetically predisposed? Should we only offer testing on genes when there is a known treatment for whatever condition might be revealed from such tests? Should healthy people have to pay for genetic testing?
There is a need for a widescale public debate about these matters at this point in time when the public sector still has a chance to influence the course of development.
The intention of the project is to cast light on what the population feels about genetic counseling about illness and about the compiling of national directories for such accounts.
At this point the only information available about this project is in Danish.
Last update: 08-04-2005