Today the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published their ‘My Science Inquiry’ report, announcing that they will take up our suggestion to launch an inquiry into ‘commercial genomics’. Commercial genomics has been selected for an inquiry, following an open evidence session on 29 January where ten ideas were pitched to the Committee. The commercial genomics inquiry will be launched later this week. Catherine Joynson, our Assistant Director, put forward a strong case for why the area of commercial genomics would benefit from examination by the Committee, as the popularity of private genomics services - such as at-home DNA tests and whole genome sequencing - is on the rise, but remains largely unchecked. Areas that we highlighted to the Committee for further investigation include:

  • ensuring that commercial testing companies meet high standards of service and care (with regard to, for example, consent processes, test accuracy, interpretation of results, and pre- and post-test counselling);
  • considering the impact on NHS staff and services; and
  • ensuring that companies have adequate measures in place for storing and sharing sensitive data.

You can watch Catherine’s presentation and Q&A session here. We are delighted that the Science and Technology Committee has decided to open an inquiry into commercial genomics and will be starting it so soon. We look forward to hearing more details in due course.

The Committee will also launch an inquiry into the impact of science funding policy on equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility within the next twelve months. The Committee has also combined two of the proposals into an inquiry into the role of science and technology in addressing challenges to food security and biodiversity. This is also of interest to the Council, as we recently launched an inquiry into the use of genome editing and farmed animals. See related story - 'Nuffield Council on Bioethics to pitch commercial genomics' inquiry to MPs'