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MELBOURNE — In April, Germany’s parliament placed limits on the use of genetic diagnosis. Is the new German law a model for other countries to follow as we grapple with the ethical issues posed by our growing knowledge of human genetics?

Some provisions of the German law draw on the widely shared ethical principles of respect for individual autonomy and privacy. No one can be tested without his or her consent. Neither employers, nor insurance companies, may require genetic testing. Individuals are granted both the right to know — to be informed of the results of any genetic test about themselves — and the right to choose to live in ignorance of what a genetic test may predict about their future. To discriminate against or stigmatize anyone on account of their genetic characteristics is prohibited.

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