Is this the new national DNA identity database?
You have to look long and hard, but eventually you find it. There, on page 51 of ‘Building on our inheritance – Genomic technology in healthcare’ is the one and only mention of the national whole genome sequence database. From the beginning you know it must exist. The report talks throughout about the benefits that will accrue to mankind from the widespread use whole genome sequence research; but it only makes sense if the data is complete and freely available. But not until page 51, and only on page 51, is the national genome database mentioned.
This would not necessarily require data stored locally: patient sequence data could be stored securely in a national database, making it accessible to the centres but also to the patient’s physician or GP.
let’s be clear: this is a national DNA database. But it’s OK, because this is for health rather than law enforcement. And it will, yeah right, only be available to health officials, and health researchers, and pharmaceutical companies and academics and probably anyone who pays for it – internationally. The report makes very clear that if national research is good, international research is very much better.
It is, in effect, a national DNA database writ large. It has all the worst elements of the police DNA database combined with the NHS central records database and will undoubtedly cost a great deal more than both and be more dangerous and insecure than either.
And for what? “Government should not be duped by hype about genomics: some useful applications will exist but most diseases in most people and many adverse drug reactions are not predictable from people’s genes,” said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK. “Storing personal genomes for no reason would lead to a massive marketing scam, based on selling drugs to healthy people who are told they are at risk of getting diseases in the future.”
My concern is that government is quite relaxed about a new national DNA database from which it will gain all the benefits with none of the blame; that, in effect, a national genome database is already a conspiracy between government and the pharmaceutical companies in just the way that ACTA and DEA and SOPA and PIPA and others are a conspiracy between governments and the entertainment industry.