Feeds

Senate outlaws genetic discrimination

Gattaca UK

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

The US Senate has unanimously voted in favour of a bill to ban genetic discrimination by insurance companies and employers in a bid to speed up research on inherited diseases.

Senators backed the bill 95 to none in a ballot yesterday.

It's not the first time Congress has tried to ban DNA discrimination, and the bill still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives. Business lobbyists have warned that new laws could prompt a flood of lawsuits.

Veteran democrat Ted Kennedy, meanwhile, has described the legislation as "the first major new civil rights bill of the new century".

It's hoped that forbidding insurance companies to discriminate on genetic grounds will help foster greater participation in research. Campaigners for the laws argue that consumers fear their DNA being obtained by big business and used against them, which has hamstrung efforts to develop therapies for inherited diseases.

Dr Francis Collins of the National Institute of Health - the US equivalent of the Medical Research Council - welcomed the news, AP reports.

"A system that allows that information to be used to deny people health care or a job is a system that has lost its way," he said. "This is a civil rights issue and it's high time we took care of it."

Earlier efforts to bring in laws have been blocked by procedural difficulties in Congress and arguments over lawsuit fears in business. A deal struck last week saw the new bill amended to discourage too many claims. It makes it clear that insurance companies are still able to discriminate on the basis of the presence of disease, even if it is inherited.

Sponsors of the bill in the House of Representatives said they expect to win approval this time, as soon as possible.

The UK has no laws against genetic discrimination. Insurance companies have voluntarily signed a moratorium until 2011. More here, from Genewatch UK. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.