Britain plans genetics watchdog

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 09 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:600
  1. John Warden

    Bowing to pressure from the House of Commons, the British government is to set up an official committee to take an overview of genetic science and its consequences. Health secretary Stephen Dorrell announced the government's rethink last week to the commons' select committee on science and technology. Previously the government had rejected the committee's call for a watchdog commission on human genetics, and this caused it to take the unusual step of reopening its inquiry into human genetics (24 February, p 464).

    Mr Dorrell said that the government was still not persuaded of the need for a statutory commission with regulatory powers, but it was considering appointing a committee with a cross departmental role to cover the development of genetic science as well as the moral and commercial implications. It would be in addition to eight other specialist committees on specific issues, such as genetic treatment and testing.

    These would remain, and Mr Dorrell said that anyone who wanted to replace them would have to show that an alternative structure would work better—JOHN WARDEN, parliamentary correspondent, BMJ

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