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Ethical Aspects of Genetic Testing in the Workplace

Holtzman N.A.
Genetics and Public Policy Studies, Institute of Genetic Medicine, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Md., USA Community Genet 2003;6:136–138 (DOI:10.1159/000078160)


The European Group on Ethics and New Technologies, which advises the European Commission, has published an opinion paper on ethical aspects of genetic testing in the workplace. The paper goes well beyond the usual ethical issues, presenting a summary of genetic testing in the workplace in the United States and Europe and criteria for appropriate testing. Unlike many other documents on ethics, it pays close attention to the problem of false-positive and false-negative test results. Although no genetic tests are currently appropriate for screening workers or applicants for jobs in which occupational hazards exist, inappropriate testing has occurred and regulations are needed to ensure that only appropriate testing is used in the future. Workers or their representatives should be involved in deciding when and how genetic testing in the workplace is done.


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