The Genomic Data Deficit: on the Need to Inform Research Subjects of the Informational Content of Their Genomic Sequence Data in Consent for Genomic Research
Computer Law & Security Review Volume 37, July 2020
11 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2020
Date Written: Juy 2020
Research subject consent plays a significant role in the legitimation of genomic research in Europe – both ethically and legally. One key criterion for any consent to be legitimate is that the research subject is ‘informed’. This criterion implies that the research subject is given all relevant information to allow them to decide whether engaging with a genomic research infrastructure or project would be normatively desirable and whether they wish to accept the risks associated with engagement. This article makes the normative argument that, in order to be truly ‘informed’, the research subject should be provided with information on the informational content of their genomic sequence data. Information should be provided, in the first instance, prior to the initial consent transaction, and should include: information on the fact that genomic sequence data will be collected and processed, information on the types of information which can currently be extracted from sequence data and information on the uncertainties surrounding the types of information which may eventually be extractable from sequence data. Information should also be provided, on an ongoing basis, as relevant and necessary, throughout the research process, and should include: information on novel information which can be extracted from sequence data and information on the novel uses and utility of sequence data. The article argues that current elaborations of ‘informed’ consent fail to adequately address the requirements set out in the normative argument and that this inadequacy constitutes an issue in need of a solution. The article finishes with a set of observations as to the fora best suited to deliver a solution and as to the substantive content of a solution.
Keywords: Genetics, Genomics, Genetic data, Biobank, Research, Consent
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