In Favor of an Action for Genetic Conversion
12 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 15, 2019
Traditionally, courts and legal scholars alike have rejected conversion claims related to DNA. Justifications for dismissing these causes of action include fears that they could hinder scientific research or commodify the human body. Judges and academics reason that—even absent actionable claims for genetic conversion—plaintiffs have access to adequate legal protections in the form of breach of fiduciary duty, lack of informed consent, invasion of privacy, or unjust enrichment. However, upon closer inspection, these claims reveal themselves as inadequate, particularly in the context of consumer genetics. People who purchase their genetic tests directly are not usually in the kinds of fiduciary or research relationships necessary to trigger legal duties. This Essay proposes that a right to genetic conversion could provide consumers with appropriate relief. Far from stifling research or disaggregating the self, genetic conversion is a modest solution for the ownership disputes that arise in the growing field of consumer genetics.
Keywords: conversion, property, law, genetics, bioethics, data, ownership, consumer genetics
JEL Classification: K11, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation