Associated Press reports that Germany will likely soon pass regressive laws limiting the use of genetic testing:
The German parliament approved legislation Friday limiting the use
of genetic testing in an effort to prevent the technology’s abuse.
The law, which was debated for more than seven years, must still go
before the upper house of parliament, but it is not expected to meet
Under the law, genetic tests can only be carried out by a doctor
and require the full consent of all parties involved. That makes it
illegal to conduct anonymous paternity tests and anyone found in
violation could be fined up to euro5,000 ($6,525).
The law further limits the use of genetic testing on fetuses to
purely medical purposes, meaning parents are prohibited from using it
to determine the sex of their unborn children. In addition it prohibits
the use of genetic testing for indications of a predisposition to
illnesses that appear only later in life, such as breast cancer or
diseases of the nervous system.
The law also addresses dissemination of information obtained
through genetic testing, including preventing employers and health
insurance companies from demanding an employee or potential client
undergo a genetic test or accessing results from previous tests. [my emphasis]
I wonder whether the rest of Europe will soon follow suit.
This restrictive, paternalistic approach is the safe option for governments, but it comes at a cost in terms of restricting individual choice and potentially slowing down the development of genetic technology. I’m all for careful and well-reasoned regulation of genetic testing, and legal protection against non-consensual or forced genetic testing is prudent – but a complete ban on direct-to-consumer genetic testing is a backward step.