Growing controversy over UC Berkeley's gene testing program

Posted by Jesse Reynolds August 4, 2010
Biopolitical Times
California state house

While Biopolitical Times took a brief hiatus, several controversies surrounding gene testing have continued to grow. Next week, the Committee on Higher Education of the California Assembly will hold an informational hearing [PDF, see p. 37] on one of them: the University of California, Berkeley's program to offer genetic testing to incoming students. In addition, a press release [PDF] yesterday from our friends at the Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) highlights at least two new troubling facts.

First, although the University's administration has previously insisted that the program's costs are covered by a private donor, it is now backtracking, denying any such donor. This follows CRG's legal requests to reveal the donor's identity, as required by California law for an experiment with human subjects. Are scarce public dollars paying for this controversial endeavor, while financial support for education is cut?

Second, despite prior claims that the actual testing would be done by a private outside laboratory, the administration switched gears and said that its own School of Public Health would do it. Yet that school has no certified genetic testing labs.

The new revelations and the legislative hearing, which will occur in Sacramento at 1:30 PM on August 10, follow the introduction of a bill which would take steps toward halt the program. CGS joined with the Council for Responsible Genetics and others in backing it [PDF].

Previously on Biopolitical Times: