European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin today rejected stories in several media claiming he had called for genetic testing of all newborn babies in Europe. Mr Busquin said: “I have never advocated any such point of view. It is not the role nor the intention of the Commission to ask EU Member States to impose universal genetic screening of babies. Genetic testing is a matter of free choice and of ethical rules being decided by EU Member States. The Commission does not regulate ethics. I certainly welcome the contribution of the expert group on genetic testing which presented its report to the Commission on May 6-7, 2004. But its recommendations are simple suggestions – and they don’t call for universal genetic testing of babies! Genetic testing can certainly help in the early detection of illnesses, but can never be made compulsory. European citizens rightly expect that the results of genetic tests are reliable and that their genetic information is used properly and following strict quality and ethical standards. The Commission is in particularly studying the issue of quality and reliability of this new technology, that must be used in a responsible and voluntary way and in a climate of confidence with the public at large.”
On December 2002, the European Commission established an expert group to address the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic testing. The Group included representatives from NGOs (including patient organisations), pharmaceutical companies (GSK, Roche, Novartis, Bayer, Genzyme), scientists and representatives from academia specialising in law, philosophy, ethics and medicine. The Group was acting in full autonomy and independence. It prepared a report and 25 recommendations on the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic testing. They only reflect the views of the expert group’s members and are not legally binding.
Fabio Fabbi | EU Commission
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