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Human genetic databanks in Australia: indications of inconsistency and confusion

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This paper reports on a survey of human biotechnology organizations in Australia. The study provides insights into the nature, use and practices involved with human genetic databanking in the country. The survey was conducted at a time when databanks were becoming increasingly important to an expanding genomics industry, and while the nature and extent of industry regulation was being debated. The data revealed a surprising level of confusion and inconsistency in the interpretation of terminology and in ethical practice, even among those organizations subject to the relevant government ethics guidelines. It is argued that despite the extensive level of public consultation, recommendations for reform and actual reform in the intervening years, human genetic databanking remains an under-regulated sector of the human biotechnology industry in Australia, and at least as far as the private sector is concerned, will remain so in the foreseeable future.
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Keywords: biobank; bioethics; biotechnology industry; genetic databank; human tissue collection; national statement; regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tasmania, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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