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Scientists slam ABI genetic code

The ABI&#39s genetic code of practice has come under public attack from leading scientists.

A group of scientists, including experts working at Norwich Research Park, one of the UK&#39s leading research inst itutions, has written a letter to the Daily Telegraph condemning the code.

The letter is signed by Dr Ian Gibson, a Labour MP and a member of the science and technology select committee, Professor David Baulcombe, Dr Phil Dale and Dr MJ Gasson. The letter says they are "unanimously opposed to genetic tests being used by the insurance industry" and fear that it will "lead to discrimination and that it will deter people from taking tests".

It adds: "Future research efforts which may one day save lives may also now be put in jeopardy." The letter calls for legislation on the issue.

The ABI&#39s code has created controversy since it was proposed, with some firms, such as Standard Life and Cornhill, going further than its provisions.

The code bans the use of tests for mortgage-linked life insurance under £100,000 and bans life offices from demanding tests to get life cover.

It also gives guidelines for dealing with the handling of test results.

The code has already had to be modified to satisfy the data protection registrar.

On the day that the code was published in Jan u ary, the Government&#39s Human Genetics Advisory Commission produced a report calling for a moratorium on the use of tests, claiming that the tests made actuarially sound decisions impossible.

ABI head of life insurance Richard Hobbs says: "Our genetics committee looked at this last week and has decided to make no direct response. We concur with the view that decisions on the future use of test results should be formerly based on good sound evidence."

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