Genetic Discrimination: A Case for a European Legislative Response?

Eur J Health Law. 2017 Apr;24(2):135-59. doi: 10.1163/15718093-12453366.


With rapid scientific and technological advances, a new genetic era is emerging. However, these advances raise ethical and legal issues, particularly genetic discrimination, that may threaten advancing science in the absence of appropriate regulation. There is currently no concrete legislative position in this area at EU level, but rather a patchwork of diverging legislative approaches amongst Member States. Genetic discrimination has been singled out as an area of reform in Europe as evidenced, for example in EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 21.1 prohibiting discrimination based on ‘genetic features.’ The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also informs this debate and may spur legislative action. From a transatlantic perspective, the United States’ federal legislation (Genetic Information Non Discrimination Act) is noteworthy. Considering scientific and technological developments, the rights at stake and the various regulatory benchmarks, this paper explores the regulation of genetic information in the EU.

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Genetic Privacy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Genetic Testing / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Prejudice / legislation & jurisprudence*