Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


No compulsory genetic testing for newborn babies in Europe


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.”

Independent advice

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.

Free choice

The recommendations were presented and discussed at a conference on May 6-7, 2004. The expert group stated that: “genetic testing is a matter of free choice and it is never to be imposed”. As far as the use of genetic tests for rare diseases is concerned, the expert group suggested that for “rare but serious diseases for which treatment is available, Member States should introduce universal neonatal screening as a priority”. The Group is therefore not asking the European Commission nor Member States to launch any global post-natal genetic screening programme but to consider screening only for rare and serious diseases for which treatments already exist.

Ban on eugenics

The ban of eugenic practices is stated in Art.3 d of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, approved by the Nice Summit in 2002, and recently included in the Constitutional Treaty for Europe approved by the Council in June 2004: “In the field of medicine and biology the following principles must be respected: (…) the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons (Article II-3)”.

Responsible use

Commissioner Busquin welcomes the work of the expert group in approaching the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic testing. This effort may be beneficial for a responsible use of this technology which represents progress in healthcare and preventive medicine. Any use of genetic tests which would contradict the Fundamental Rights stated in the European Charter, would not be supported by the Commission, as well any proposal which would contradict the principle of subsidiarity and the autonomy of Member States on ethical issues.

Fabio Fabbi | EU Commission
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>