Nutrigenomics and Ethics Interface: Direct-to-Consumer Services and Commerical Aspects

- OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology
Author/s: -Ries, N M -Castle, D
Journal: OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology
Year: 2008
Volume: 12
Issue: 4
Pages: 245
Start Page: 245

A growing variety and number of genetic tests are advertised and sold directly to consumers (DTC) via the Internet, including nutrigenomic tests and associated products and services. Consumers have more access to genetic information about themselves, but access does not entail certainty about the implications of test results. Potential personal and public health harms and benefits are associated with DTC access to genetic testing services. Early policy responses to direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing often involved calls for bans, and some jurisdictions prohibited DTC genetic tests. Recent policy responses by oversight bodies acknowledge expansion in the range of DTC tests available and suggest that a “one-size-fits-all” regulatory approach is not appropriate for all genetic tests. This review discusses ethical and regulatory aspects of DTC genetic testing, focusing particularly on nutrigenomic tests. We identify policy options for regulating DTC genetic tests, including full or partial prohibitions, enforcement of existing truth-in-advertising laws, and more comprehensive information disclosure about genetic tests. We advocate the latter option as an important means to improve transparency about current evidence on the strengths and limits of gene–disease associations and allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions in the DTC marketplace.