LONDON The genome landed amid a mass of orchestrated press releases and international media coverage. Some commentators prophesied the dawn of a new and glorious era — others poured forth scorn or doom-laden predictions. Now that a few months have passed, the British Medical Journal has decided it is time for another bout of more careful reflection, and today published a series of papers that together give a less than euphoric view of the future, much less the current utility of predictive genetic testing.

Add to this the British House of Commons' recently published report Genetics and Insurance, which roundly condemns the way that the UK's insurance industry has already started to use predictive testing, and the need for careful consideration becomes all too apparent.

Predictive genetic testing, says director of cancer genetics services at the University of North Carolina, James Evans, and co-authors (BMJ 2001, 322:1052-1056),...

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