The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has been invited to pitch an inquiry on commercial genomics to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on 29 January.

We submitted a response to the Committee’s ‘My Science’ inquiry, which invited suggestions from the public for possible future inquiries. The Committee received a total of 86 responses and has chosen ten to be pitched in person.We chose ‘commercial genomics’ as we have several pressing concerns in this area. The popularity of private companies offering tests such as at-home DNA kits; preconception, prenatal and newborn screening; and whole genome sequencing is on the rise, but the sector is expanding largely unchecked. Key issues 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.

We believe that this area would benefit from examination by the Committee and we are pleased to have the opportunity to present the key issues. Our Assistant Director, Catherine Joynson, will be pitching to the Committee at 10:27 on Tuesday 29 January. The hearing will be streamed live – you can watch it here.