EU conference: Genetics Testing Should Not Be Commercialized

At a recent conference and debate on “New genetic applications and access to healthcare”, organized by the European Commission and the Socialist Mutual Health Fund of Belgium, participants “called for increased vigilance against the risk of commercialisation of genetic testing” according to a press report.

Even though the press report is very brief and there are signs of translation difficulties, e.g. “fake positives” rather than the idiom “false positives”, it portrays the general attitude of the conference to be one of extreme skepticism toward genetic testing that is geared toward medical consumers. In response to the agreement by participants, according to the press coverage, that “it is important to legislate to keep genetic testing in the medical realm,” prescribed by “specialized teams” and out of the hands of private health insurance companies, “[r]epresentatives from the insurance sector argued that the patient should not be told the results [of genetic testing] either.” Another participant, Rudy Demotte, the Belgian Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, insisted that, according to the press report, “progress in genetics is very slow, and that it is in prevention that genetics becomes very important. He also pointed out that it is not in the interest of anyone to make genetic testing commercially available as this would create the risk of misinformation.” Are there not any knowledgeable medical consumers in Europe? There is no question that potentially thorny issues surround genetic testing, but there must be more creative solutions than simply prohibiting or severely limiting the ability of medical consumers to learn about their own biology.

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