Tests to determine genetic risk profiles are currently being offered by a small number of companies in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. At least two companies say the tests will help people choose diets that will improve their health.
"In order to ensure that only the best science is available to the public, it may be helpful to establish scientific guidelines for the provision of such services, including clinical guidelines on the use of genetic tests for health care," says Dr. David Castle, a Professor with the University of Guelph philosophy department. "Guidelines could cover such factors as the nature of the test, the quality of research that it is based on, the value of the test for clients, its cost, acceptability, priority relative to other health care services and the results compared to using other means."
"If even part of its promise is realized, nutrigenomic testing and the labeling of foods for specific subpopulations on the basis of their genetic make up could become highly important public health tools," says Dr. Singer.
"But nutrigenomics research raises many of the ethical concerns now associated with genetic testing," he adds. "Most of these revolve around the central issue of how genetic information is managed."
Use of nutritional genomic-related information
"As more is learned about individual genetic susceptibility to disease, information from genetic tests may become increasingly attractive to outside parties who stand to gain from it," the paper says. "There is a concern that employers or insurers could use genetic information to the unfair disadvantage of some people. Two-thirds of respondents in a 1997 survey said they would not undergo genetic testing if they thought that health insurers and employers would have access to the results. As a result