On March 11, 1997, Senator Pete Domenici introduced U.S. Senate Bill 422, the Genetic Confidentiality and Non-Discrimination Act of 1997. The bill specifies that 'existing legal protections for genetic information are inadequate to ensure genetic privacy and to prevent genetic discrimination.' The first stated purpose of the bill is 'to define the circumstances under which DNA samples may be collected, stored, and analyzed and genetic information may be collected, stored, analyzed, and disclosed.' The bill reinforces statutes already passed in 19 states that guarantee patients certain rights of control over their own personal genetic information (Congressional Record, S2141). This bill fundamentally changes the mechanism whereby molecular biologists acquire tissue, and defines new obligations between researchers and human subjects. Even if this bill is not passed in its present form, it appears inevitable that legislation with a similar intent will soon emerge. Any such legislation will carry the full weight and penalties of law. Because many current research practices may violate these proposed new regulations, researchers should understand the provisions of S. 422. Furthermore, it is crucial that researchers understand the bill now, before it becomes law, because this may be their last opportunity to lobby for any modifications of the bill.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine