NUI Galway Host Genetic Discrimination Seminar in European Parliament

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The NUI Galway Centre for Disability Law and Policy will host a seminar in the European Parliament in Brussels on 'Genetic Discrimination - Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response'. The seminar, organised in conjunction with the European Disability Forum and the European Parliament Disability Intergroup, will take place on Tuesday, 6 March.

The purpose of this event is to bring together key stakeholders to examine and further highlight the case for a European level legal and policy response to protect the privacy of genetic information. Ways to prevent genetic discrimination will also be examined, particularly in the employment and insurance contexts.

The event will highlight the issues of genetic discrimination and genetic privacy on a European forum.  It will also raise awareness of these issues to the key European Institutions in Brussels.  This is an important and necessary step towards introducing reform in the area and taking the opportunity to make recommendations for legal intervention. The outcome of the seminar will further the discussion on what an appropriate European level response might be – involving stakeholders who will be contributing towards drafting, producing and implementing such a legislative response. The potential practical impact of this seminar is that it will make a meaningful contribution towards framing the necessary legal reform in this area.

Professor Gerard Quinn, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy, said: “NUI Galway hosted a conference of the same title in Galway at the end of 2011. This conference highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to regulate this complex area. On foot of the scientific and legal expertise offered, and on consideration of the potential for abuse and the fundamental human rights at stake, the conference strongly indicated a need for an appropriate regulatory response at European level to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. This event in March aims to build upon the discussion generated from the NUI Galway conference and further highlight this issue at European level.”

The European seminar will be chaired by Andre Gubbels, Belgian Ministry. Speakers at the seminar will include: Professor Ciaran Morrison, Centre for Chromosome Biology, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway; Professor Yann Joly, Centre of Genomics and Policy, McGill University, Canada; Professor Peter Blanck, Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University; Dr Delia Ferri, Faculty of Law, University of Verona; Dr Ine Van Hoyweghen, Department of Health, Ethics and Society, Maastricht University; Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor; Jan Jareb, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights; Marian Harkin, Member of the European Parliament; and J. Patrick Clarke, member of European Disability Forum Executive Committee and President of Down Syndrome Ireland.

For further details, or to register for this free event, visit



Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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