Genetic Privacy laws exists to prevent the abuse of genetic information. It is understood that these laws were created specifically to prohibit health insurance companies, employers and housing agencies from using genetic data to discriminate against citizens. Genetic discrimination can be described as the unfair treatment of individuals by employers/insurance companies based on gene mutations inherited by the individuals that may lead to disorders. The steps included in a genetic test are relatively simple and inherently safe:
- A test is ordered
- Tests are done on samples of blood, hair, skin or just fluid
- Sample is sent to laboratory. There, careful attention is paid to changes in chromosomes
- A report of the test results is sent back to either a doctor or the individual whom ordered the test in the first place
Using this technology in todays medical world has become the center point for many researchers in advancing treatment for preventative diseases. On the other hand, there are many people who are anxious about the harmful effects it may have on society. Personally, I think the potential benefits of genetics heavily outweigh the risks. The only real issues I can see with genetic testing stem from the emotional, social or financial consequences that may occur as a result of the tests.
I believe that Canada’s Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act is needed to protect the genetic information of its citizens. Many other counter measures have been enacted to deal with the issues ascribed above. Just this year Canada passed a new genetic privacy law, originally introduced in 2013, that aimed to prevent the further abuse of genetic information by health insurance companies. The bill prohibits the discrimination on grounds of genetics and the sharing of genetic data without written consent from the proprietor. The reasoning behind the law was to encourage citizens to make better use of the genetic technology available to them.
To sum up, the current laws in the Canadian government that prevent the abuse of genetic data are sufficient in my eyes. The laws are made so that we may choose the appropriate use of the technology to get the most benefits out of it.
Canada’s new genetic privacy law is causing huge headaches for Justin Trudeau. 10 03 2017. Article. 04 12 2017. <http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/canada-s-new-genetic-privacy-law-causing-huge-headaches-justin-trudeau>.
Genetic Home References. Your guide to understanding Genetic Conditions. 28 11 2017. 04 12 2017. <https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/testing/riskslimitations>