Today the President has announced his desire for Congress to pass a law to prevent companies from discriminating against applicants based on genetics.

In a statement at the National Institutes of Health last week, Bush urged Congress and business leaders to work together to pass a bill that will prevent employers from denying people jobs — and insurance companies from denying eligibility — based on genetic profiles.

“Unwarranted use of genetic information, and the fear of potential discrimination, threatens both society’s ability to use new genetic technologies to improve human health and the ability to conduct the research needed to understand, treat and prevent diseases,” according to a White House statement highlighting the priorities Bush set during the NIH visit. “The Administration will work closely with the science community, employers, and other stakeholders on a proposal that is responsible and fair. Enactment of federal legislation will help guarantee that the nation fully realizes the potential of ongoing advances in genetic sciences.”

This has been the target of several EEOC lawsuits in the past, most notably against Burlington Norther Sante Fe (BNSF) Railroad for testing employees for a rare genetic condition that may increase chances of carpal tunnel syndrome. Provided the legislation is sound, this should be heralded as a positive step towards limiting future hiring discrimination as genetic screening technology progresses.

I do find it incredibly ironic, however, that a person who believes “the jury is still out on evolution,” believes in genetics. Given the administration’s current assault on science through the altering and censorship of research reports ranging from global warming to the big bang, I am led to question the underlying intentions of this new legislative push.

Advertisements