Genomics and Toxic Torts: Dismantling the Risk-Injury Divide

65 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2007

See all articles by Jamie A. Grodsky

Jamie A. Grodsky

George Washington University - Law School


Emerging genetic and molecular technologies are revolutionizing our understanding of the relationship between genes and the environment. This Article develops an innovative framework for understanding the implications of the genomic revolution for the law of toxic torts. Professor Grodsky demonstrates how new technologies are poised to challenge longstanding distinctions between legally inconsequential risk and remediable injury, and how the U.S. legal system will need to adapt to this emerging reality. If the law remains wedded to conventional notions of injury, it will ignore the fruits of a scientific revolution and thus may forego new remedial opportunities as yet unimagined. This is particularly significant given that twenty-first century medicine strives to go beyond the limitations of biology and detect, prevent, and treat disease at the molecular level. The transformative and rapidly evolving technologies of the genomic era will present herculean challenges for the legal system. But opportunities to fashion new remedies and create new efficiencies must not be overlooked in the process. Professor Grodsky recommends legal approaches to balance the goals of deterrence and legal restraint in an age of accelerating scientific change.

Keywords: Regulation, public health, bio marker, subpopulation, subclinical, genomic law, biological marker, biomarker, genetic, tort, Genomic, subcellular, litigation, environment, environmental gene, environment

Suggested Citation

Grodsky, Jamie A., Genomics and Toxic Torts: Dismantling the Risk-Injury Divide. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 59, No. 1671, 2007, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 297, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 297, Available at SSRN:

Jamie A. Grodsky (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States


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