Council’s DNA recommendations endorsed by human rights ruling

In a landmark ruling, judges at the European Court of Human Rights have endorsed the Council’s recommendations against storing DNA profiles and samples of innocent people on the National DNA Database.

The Court of 17 judges unanimously ruled that keeping the samples and fingerprints of two UK men, who had been arrested but never convicted of any crime, constituted a breach of their human rights. The judgement was based solely on a violation of Article 8 – the right to respect for a private life.

read more »

DNA of innocent people should not be kept by police

DNA profiling is an increasingly valuable tool for detecting and prosecuting offenders, but more safeguards are needed to protect the liberty and privacy of the innocent, according to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

One of the safeguards recommended by the Council is that the police should only be allowed to keep the DNA of people who are convicted of a crime. Currently, the police can permanently store DNA taken from people who have been arrested even if they are later found to be innocent.

read more »

Responses to consultations on GM crops in developing countries

In 2004, the Council highlighted the recommendations in The use of GM crops in developing countries: a follow-up discussion paper in the following responses to the consultations of other organisations.

Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission

Research agendas in agricultural biotechnology

read more »

New report tackles controversial research into genes and behaviour

Embryos should not be selected for behavioural traits such as intelligence on the basis of genetic information, according to a Report published today (2 October) by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The report, Genetics and human behaviour: the ethical context, looks at ethical, legal and social issues that are raised by research into behavioural genetics.

read more »

Nuffield Council on Bioethics urges caution in patenting DNA

Patents involving DNA sequences should be the exception rather than the rule, according to a paper published today (23 July 2002) by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The Discussion Paper, The ethics of patenting DNA, recommends a number of significant changes to the way that patents are granted involving DNA sequences.

read more »

Views sought on the ethical implications of research in behavioural genetics

Current research in the field of behavioural genetics is attempting to identify links between genes and human behavioural traits such as aggression, antisocial behaviour, alcoholism, homosexuality and intelligence. This area of research is proceeding at a rapid pace, and the latest findings are frequently highlighted in the media.

read more »

Launch of inquiry: Genetics and human behaviour

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics announced today a major new inquiry into the ethics of research into genetics and human behaviour. The Working Party will seek the public's views in a consultation commencing in March 2001.

Its terms of reference are:

1. To define and consider ethical, social and legal issues arising from the study of the genetics of variation within the normal range of behavioural characteristics.

2. To survey the current field of research, in particular, to review:

read more »

Council to hold roundtable meetings on patenting DNA

Many companies and universities throughout the world are seeking to file patents on gene sequences and proteins. Questions remain, however, over the moral implications of protecting rights to property in this kind of way. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is holding a series of Roundtable meetings to consider the ethical and legal issues raised by this form of patenting and the implications for healthcare.

read more »

Experts warn against 'geneticisation' of mental disorders

Special safeguards must be implemented to protect people with mental disorders from genetic testing that would not be beneficial to that person, say the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. In their report, Mental Disorders and Genetics: the ethical context, published today (23 September, 1998), the ethical implications arising from genetic research and how the research is applied are reviewed on the basis of the fundamental need to preserve human respect and human dignity.

read more »