Genomic technologies continue to transform biomedical research and are being widely used to help understand the biochemical mechanisms that underlie disease. But the rapid proliferation of genomics-based technologies - and their application in a clinical context - poses immense social and policy-making challenges.

This 'perspective' article states that until several ethical, legal and social issues are addressed by effective science policy, the potential of genomic technologies will not be fully realised. The authors argue that more widespread public debate and subsequent policy action are urgently required.

Although the article focuses largely on the US situation, it includes a useful discussion of the mechanisms by which science policy tends to develop, drawing on recent examples. The authors conclude by proposing an independent genome policy organisation, which would provide a forum for to explore public concerns and develop policy options.


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