Experts question DNA hype 

Human Genetics Alert (HGA;1) invites members of the media to a briefing on April 9th (2) which will present an alternative view on the current celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of DNA.  HGA believes that the uncritical celebrations of the anniversary ignore many of the ethical and social issues raised by genetics; this briefing is the only event in London that attempts to redress the balance.   Leading experts(3), including Dr Ian Gibson MP, Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, will ask:

                    has the DNA revolution really lived up to its billing?

                    is genetics being applied in the public interest, or that of corporations?

                    should we worry about eugenics and designer babies?

 HGA believes that, while the DNA revolution has led to many exciting insights into how genes work, the medical benefits have often been over-sold. This is partly because researchers' narrow focus on genetics has led to a simplistic view of how biology and disease works. Meanwhile, genetics is constantly throwing up ethical issues, that are not being adequately discussed. An underlying problem is the increasing control of research by corporations.

 HGA's Director, Dr David King, said: "The discovery of the structure of DNA has led to a revolution in the way we think about human life and about our relationship to nature.  It has brought some medical benefits but also GM food, genetic discrimination and the possibility of 'designer babies'.  We need less hype about the wonders of DNA and more serious attention to the social and ethical issues raised by genetics."

 Dr King and the speakers are available for interview by contacting HGA: 020 7704 6100

Notes for Editors 

1.Human Genetics Alert is an independent watchdog group funded by leading charities.

2. The event will be at G2 Assembly Hall, School of Oriental and African Studies, Thornhaugh St., Russell Square, London WC1 at 7.30 pm on April 9th.

3. The speakers are: Dr Ian Gibson MP, Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Professor Hilary Rose, Co-author of Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology and Dr Richard Nicholson, Editor of The Bulletin of Medical Ethics

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