Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Consumer Protection as a Check on the Genetic Era

We have most definitely entered the "gene age."  With the unraveling of the human genome, it became clear that it only would be a matter of time until each of our individual genomes became both knowable and available.  That time is virtually upon us with the recent surge in direct-to-consumer genetic-testing startups.

However, with the genetic epoch, we also have been ushered into -- perhaps unwittingly for many -- an era of extremely heightened caveat emptor, given the serious potential for misinterpreting, misunderstanding, misusing, and abusing such complex, sensitive, personal information.  Fortunately, it appears that the time of consumerism has not passed us by.  In fact, consumerism is alive and well, as evidenced by the consumer-motivated response by government officials in New York and California to these novel service providers.  To learn more, check out:  "Genetic-testing Start-ups Asked to Stop Selling in Calif." by Stefanie Olsen, available at (June 17, 2008).

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