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Statement of the WHO Expert Consultation on New Developments in Human Genetics

In 2000 the World Health Organisation (WHO) undertook a consultation exercise involving both invited experts in human genetics and staff members, to review WHO’s activities in human genetics, identify challenges and priorities for WHO, and assess the future role of the organisation in genetics.

The paper briefly outlines WHO's role as a leader in health-related issues, and emphasises its need to provide policies on human genetics quickly and decisively. It includes a short statement that underlines the importance of applying knowledge from the human genome in an ethical way, with "due regard to autonomy, justice, education, and the beliefs and resources of each nation and community".

Priority recommendations for WHO include:

  • Developing its capacity to offer a global response to the ethical, legal and social issues posed by the revolution in human genetics
  • Convening a public, high-level meeting to consider these issues and to stimulate global dialogue
  • Ensuring the establishment of a genetic resource centre
  • Encouraging all nations to set up genetic services and prepare for future needs.
  • Developing international norms and standards for genetic testing and other health-related gene technologies
  • Considering the implications of the use of experimental transgenic animals, possible hazards from zenotransplantation to humans, and relevant issues arising from the development of these and other genetically modified organisms
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