Stephen Fry questions if bio technology's ability in discovering genetic links will affect health insurance costs and asks if this is an ethically worrying issue

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Stephen's question was put to specialist tooth stem cell bank BioEden at the annual Protection Review event in London on July 10th. Source: BioEden

'increasing insurance premiums for people based solely on the presence of a genetic marker is ethically questionable and I hope it does not happen'

Stephen asked, 'I am fascinated more and more by the inexorable confluence of the insurance and actuarial industries and technology. Bio-technology holds out the promise (or nightmare depending on how you look at it) discovering the genes behind many conditions, syndromes and diseases, even offering predictable outcomes from the cradle on. This will naturally affect premiums. Is that an ethically worrying issue do we feel?'

BioEden responded by saying' The presence of a gene does not accurately predict the development of a future illness just as the presence of a lottery ticket does not accurately predict future wealth. The human body is a very complex organism and the development of a disease generally requires both genetic and environmental elements to work together in a perfect situation. People are much more than the sum of their parts. I personally believe that increasing the insurance premium based solely on the presence of a genetic marker is ethically questionable and I hope it does not happen.'

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Sue Wilkinson
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