Genes, Society and the Future: Main Findings

Genes, Society and the Future, Vol. 1, September 2007

24 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2010

See all articles by Mark Henaghan

Mark Henaghan

University of Otago; University of Otago

Sheila McLean

University of Glasgow - School of Law

Date Written: September 2007


Since the completion of the sequencing and mapping of the human genome in April 2003, the potential for genetic medicine to be used as a testing, diagnostic and treatment tool for multiple diseases is becoming a reality. However, because of the predictive nature of genetic diagnosis, there are fears that our future may be determined for us by scientists and medical clinicians. There is concern as to how the information that is obtained from genetic testing will be used by others. This Report analyses the current and future state of genetic medicine, the potential impacts it has on society both now and in the future, and the ethical and legal principles that must be in place to protect human vulnerability and the integrity of the individual.

This Report covers the use of genetic testing before birth, immediately after birth, on children and on whole communities. It explains new genetic tools such as whole genome screening for the benefit of clinicians who may be confronted by these technologies and the public who may wish to use the new technologies. The primary purpose of this report is to be as accurate and accessible as possible regarding just what can and cannot be done with genetic testing technologies. The emphasis is on being as fair as possible in explaining and critiquing the issues that emerge from the use of genetic technologies. The researchers who worked on this report do not come solely from one discipline. This minimises the possibility of one particular mindset – whether it be scientific, ethical, cultural or legal – dominating the analyses and recommendations. We have all worked together and argued extensively about how to interpret our findings and present them in such a way that the public can understand what is at stake in formulating the best possible legal and regulatory frameworks for the use of genetic testing in our society.

Keywords: Law, Genome, Genetics, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, Newborn, Genetic Testing, Genetic Screening, Community Genetics, Maori, Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Suggested Citation

Henaghan, Mark and McLean, Sheila, Genes, Society and the Future: Main Findings (September 2007). Genes, Society and the Future, Vol. 1, September 2007, Available at SSRN:

Mark Henaghan (Contact Author)

University of Otago ( email )

Faculty of Law
P.O. Box 56
Dunedin, 9054
New Zealand
64 3 479 5324 (Phone)
64 3 479 8855 (Fax)


University of Otago ( email )

PO Box 56
Dunedin North
Dunedin, 9016
New Zealand
6434798854 (Phone)
644798855 (Fax)


Sheila McLean

University of Glasgow - School of Law ( email )

Stair Building
5 - 8 The Square
Glasgow, Scotland G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

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