California Dept of Public Health criticises, university backs down
The University of California, Berkeley will
not release personal genetic information to incoming students who participated
in an orientation program about genetics. The program “Bring Your Genes to Cal”
was criticised by the California Department of Public Health because state law
prohibits gene testing outside a medical setting.
Mark Schlissel, dean of biological
sciences, said he disagreed with the department’s ruling that advance approval
for testing was required from physicians, and that the testing should be done
in clinical labs with special licences rather than by university technicians.
He also argued that the project should be exempted from the state rules because
it was an educational exercise.
Privacy advocates and ethicists had criticised
the test as a disturbing use of genetic data. Some students felt that they were
being quietly coerced into participating, and that their saliva samples and
resulting personal information would not be sufficiently protected. ~ LA Times,
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