Genetic Research Is Not Benefiting Developing Countries. (Environmental Intelligence)
Sarin, Radhika, World Watch
A new World Health Organization (WHO) report warns that developing countries do not stand to benefit from current genetic research. Increased understanding of the genetic composition of pathogens, disease vectors, and humans could lead to treatments and vaccines for many of the diseases that plague the developing world, finds the report. But the increasing influence of commercial interests on research agendas discourages scientists from focusing on poor people's health needs.
The report, "Genomics and World Health," also emphasizes that genetic research should not come at the expense of conventional medical practices, such as epidemiological research, public health measures, and clinical care. Basic health care in many countries is already in desperate need of funding, and genetic research, with its uncertain timescale, could drain limited resources. Creating a genetically altered mosquito with reduced ability to transmit malaria-causing parasites, for example, has been held up as a possible end to malaria. But the May 23 issue of Nature states that the research is in an early stage, with no guarantees of success.
The report cautions against advancing genetic technologies in the absence of international safety and ethics regulations. Without sufficient public education and informed consent, for instance, practices such as genetic screening could lead to stigmatization and discrimination in job and health insurance. …