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Consumer Genetic Testing Available In Australia

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the giant-book-that's-hidden-inside-you dept.

Biotech 88

Megaport writes "After the banning of direct-to-consumer genetic testing in Australia last July, new rules were imposed to require a physician to be involved in the process. Now a new Australian start-up, Lumigenix, has launched a genome decoding service for Australian (and global) consumers that meets the new regulatory requirements. Their products include genetic testing for health and ancestry information. The Australian government is planning to revisit the issue later this year and further regulation is anticipated in response to the emergence of direct-to-consumer genetic services."

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Employers (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820576)

So how long will it be before employers require this testing to screen applicants out for learning disabilities, probabilities of alcoholism/addiction, and probability of getting cancer?

Re:Employers (3, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820664)

Hrm. They made one of those things, called a "law", that's the initial subject of this article. I wonder if the Australian government could make another one of these "law" things to prohibit exactly that type of abuse and specify that no one is permitted to request that someone get genetic test results or favor those who provide them? Seems it'd be a good use for such a thing.

Re:Employers (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820788)

Oh, we from $big_insurance have no problem with that, the law forbids us to require a gene test before insuring you. That's certainly no problem for us and we will comply with that law fully. We will insure you any time even without a genetic test for a fee of $fee_suitable_for_ultra_high_risk_people. Of course, if you voluntarily provide a gene test, we might offer discounts.

We certainly and wholeheartedly welcome this law. If we'd be allowed to require such a test, we might have to pay for it instead of you.

Same way around for employing. We can't require a gene test from you, but without we only employ you at minimum wage. For more, bring a gene test result (all voluntary, of course). Also, be prepared to be the first person fired if you don't, after all, everyone else did (since they didn't want to work for minimum pennies), so you must have some sort of genetic disorder and we're probably better off without you.

Seriously, though. Money talks, and often it talks its way out of legal corners. If a company wants to do something it is not allowed, they sure find a way to make it "interesting" to comply with their wishes.

Re:Employers (3, Insightful)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820884)

Too bad we have universal healthcare here in Australia. Private health insurance is generally such bad value that it needs a 30% government rebate and the 1% extra tax if your income is above a certain threshhold if you don't get private coverage to make it somewhat 'competitive'.

Re:Employers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820904)

So do we, so? Your rates will simply go up if you're a "high risk person". You're a smoker, a woman, and your genetic profile shows that you have a disposition for adiposis and addictions, so your rates go up from 7% of your income to 38%.

Just because it ain't private doesn't mean that it can't "adjust" to make it "fair for everyone".

Re:Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821048)

MPs are already discussing bringing in genetic non-discrimination laws which would bar that exact scenario.

Re:Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821322)

Explain what rate they are going to raise? Since its universal health-care the end-user doesn't pay a rate.
Just exactly what rate will they raise?

Does australia have each person paying a clear specific portion of their taxes to cover their own healthcare?
I find that unlikely since it defeats the purpose of universal health care.

Who exactly is going to raise the rate? The government(insurer) is going to institute a program to identify high-risk people and raise their rates?
Good luck getting that bill passed.

Re:Employers (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821790)

Yes, that's exactly how the universal health care works. A certain percentage of your income above a certain value, capped at some other value.

The direct levy is under 2%. You pay a higher levy if you are above a certain threshold and do not also have private health care (so it can be more expensive *not* to have basic private care).

Also, private health care is community rated, so you don't pay more or get rejected if you are in poor health or have pre-existing conditions (there may be waiting periods before claiming -- e.g. 18 months before a hip replacement). Recently they have also made it cheaper for life if you start out with private health insurance before age 30.

And why would my employer need to be involved?

As an Australian it still amazes me why the US has a health care system set up like those in 3rd world countries.

Re:Employers (1)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822226)

Actually, most third-world countries put us to shame. Health Insurance is a pretty big money grab from the word "go".

Re:Employers (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822718)

>As an Australian it still amazes me why the US has a health care system set up like those in 3rd world countries.

Don't insult us. Both South Africa and Brazil are third-world countries (though the politically correct term nowadays is "developing nations") and we both have significantly better healthcare than the USA does !
Hell Britons fly to South Africa to get cosmetic surgery (among the few things the NHS doesn't provide) because they can get world-class surgery and thanks to the exchange rate pay about 10% of what it would cost in the UK. There's quite a thriving industry in boobjob-tourists down here.

As for Brazil - I have been in their clinics and hospitals and got excellent treatment, with a massive amount of preventative care thrown in (I went with a flu and got a huge dose of vitamins along with my meds and a 3 hour oxygen-tank treatment to boost my immune system and reduce the risk of secondary infections): result I got healthier quicker than any other flu in my life (which if I was working when I was there would have meant a LOT less sick days lost) - and the bill ? There wasn't one.

Re:Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34829798)

I apologise to those developing nations with health care systems better than the US. (And there's probably too many to list) :-)

Re:Employers (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821498)

Um what? This has no relevance to Australia, since:

a) we have public universal single-payer healthcare; and

b) even if you choose to have private health insurance, it has nothing, whatsoever, to do with your employer. You choose a company and buy the insurance, just like it was house insurance or car insurance. You can do it over the phone in a few minutes, no tests required.

Re:Employers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822920)

So do we on the other end of the globe. But some parties here are already pondering aloud to increase the insurance premium for people with higher "personal risk" (smokers, fat people, diabetics...), and you think it would be unthinkable that they will easily expand that to people with "high risk" genetic makeup?

Just a few more percent of your salary for insurance, after all, it's more likely that you get sick...

Re:Employers (1)

zblack_eagle (971870) | more than 3 years ago | (#34830576)

But some parties here are already pondering aloud to increase the insurance premium for people with higher "personal risk" (smokers, fat people, diabetics...)

We don't have that problem here. This is not because of anti-discriminatory laws. This is because health insurance of any kind is not required. There is no government-mandated health insurance, health care is provided to our citizens as a basic service at low cost to the user.

As far as high risk people go, we try to use preventative and education methods of reducing such risk. Excise on tobacco and alcohol products, advertisements on the effects of consumption, etc.

We don't have the same 'fear' of socialism as you do, so unless some other FUD is spread by self-interested persons we tend to try to aim for the most efficient and beneficial models of governmental services as we possibly can, whether it be socialist, free market, or something else.

Re:Employers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34834098)

Fear of socialism? Our socialist party has (still) member numbers the USSR communist party was jealous of! And they're still the leading party, albeit with severely reduced election results (from about 50% during up to the 1990s to about 30% today).

It's not a fear of socialism. More, it's greed and envy. Why should he get something that I don't get? It seems people got so used to a "social market economy" (that's what our system has been called) that they can't think it's possible their very OWN social services that they rely on could be axed when our right wingers gain power.

We pay our medical services with tax. I.e. a portion of your income is taken from you and in return you get "free" healthcare. No matter what operation, no matter what medication, you get it. And our right wingers keep prodding to make it "more fair" by having those that are more likely to use the medical facilities pay more of their income to contribute to it. They already managed to push through that you have to pay a fee for every medication you need (still quite nominal, roughly 5 bucks a pack of pills compared to the 20+ that they really cost, but still), with the alleged goal to reduce the medication bill the government has to foot. Which worked, the poorer people now think twice before they go and get medication (which of course resulted in a lot more sick people and a lot more lost days of work, but hey, we reduced the medical cost, to hell with productivity).

I personally think your system would be a lot more sensible and also efficient, simply because you cannot FORCE people to behave in a certain way. You can only give them enough incentive to.

Re:Employers (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822328)

If you want to see how this plays out, just watch Gattaca [imdb.com] . This movie is scarily prophetic.

Re:Employers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34822416)

The answer is simple. If you want the service, sign up as Fred Flintstone or Barney Rubble. As long as you provide a valid credit card, Fred will receive his tube - and you can spit into it. There is no way any insurer can find out you have had the test.

US Insurers are prevented from requiring this sort of test, Australian insurers aren't sophisticated enough to use the information.

Since everyone's results will show a complex mixture of `good' and `bad' genes (the consequences of which will be massively influenced by environment) there really is almost nothing here that could be of use to an insurer.

Consumer genomics is very unlike classical genetic testing. Classical genetic testing concentrates on rare diseases that are mono-allelic, and have massive genetic components. Consumer genomics concentrates on risk factors for common conditions, that are poly allelic and have relatively modest genetic components. If you have something that would be of interest to an insurer (for example the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation for pre-menopausal breast cancer) you are most likely to know about it already because of familial incidence.

So is there anything here that could be of interest to a consumer? Speaking from personal experience, I think so. I had the test (I won't say which company) I looked at my risk profile. Most of the odds ratios were between 0.66 and 1.5 - which is frankly in the noise zone. One odds ratio was up in the 8 fold region - that is something I will look out for and monitor during my life. I may never develop the condition, I am confident that I could find other ways of spending a few hundred dollars that would have a better impact on my health -- but I am interested in finding out about my genetic makeup. They are my genes, and why the hell shouldn't I be able to know what they are if I choose to?

Re:Employers (0)

jianan4115 (1925758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820828)

It is all too mysterious righteousness Buy maplestory mesos [mesosok.com]

Re:Employers (2)

SpinningAround (449335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820690)

A better question is- do the results of voluntary genetic testing fall under the ' full disclosure' clauses in your typical health insurance policy? You know. The clauses under which you agree to disclose anything that you, or a generic but legally 'reasonable' version of you might have some bearing on your policy.

Not so much of an issue in Oz, where private health insurance works very differently than in the US. Might be more of a concern for those dwelling across the Pacific...

Re:Employers (3, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820716)

The US has a law on the subject, forbidding insurers to take your genetic information into account:
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/gina.cfm [eeoc.gov]

Re:Employers (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823410)

Genetic testing isn't quite to the point where it is disruptive yet. However, it will get there most likely.

Once it does, laws like this will be absolutely useless. There are only two stable insurance scenarios in a world where genetic testing accurately predicts insurance risk:

1. Universal coverage - everybody gets the same insurance for around the same rate and payment is mandatory (taxes, mandatory premiums, whatever - with penalties/enforcement sufficient to make almost everybody pay for it). This could be socialized with progressive rates/etc - but it has to be universal.

2. Risk-based coverage/payment - everybody is eligible for insurance or pays a rate for insurance relative to their risk. Somebody at risk for cancer in their 50s might have cheap insurance until they are 40, and then can't afford it. Some children might have astronomical premiums before they are even born.

No other scenario is stable once information is available to either the insurer or the insured. If insurers can discriminate based on risk, then you end up on #2. If the insurer cannot discriminate, but the insured can elect not to buy coverage, then the coverage pool shrinks tremendously as healthy people elect no coverage, and rates skyrocket, and then you basically end up with #2 anyway, but with no insurance at all for those who are genetically healthy. If you mandate low prices or no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions to counteract this, then you've essentially come up with an inefficient version of #1.

Re:Employers (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 3 years ago | (#34824872)

There are only two stable insurance scenarios in a world where genetic testing accurately predicts insurance risk:

One problem: your case #1 isn't insurance at all, but rather (false) "charity" for those with high risk. Case #2, on the other hand, is basically the definition of insurance. So there is really only one stable scenario which actually counts as insurance, and that scenario is the one where cost corresponds to risk.

Somebody at risk for cancer in their 50s might have cheap insurance until they are 40, and then can't afford it.

Solution: If you know you are likely to develop cancer in your 50s, then set aside the savings from your cheap (pre-40s) insurance and be prepared.

Some children might have astronomical premiums before they are even born.

Solution: Parents take out insurance on the child before conception, at a cost dependent on their own genetic profiles and the resulting likelihood of hereditary genetic issues. If it later turns out that their child does indeed have some sort of genetic defect, the insurance provides them with a trust fund to deal with it.

Re:Employers (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34825360)

your case #1 isn't insurance at all, but rather (false) "charity" for those with high risk

Insurance is basically an agreement of a bunch of people to share a single risk pool. I agree that #1 stretches this because the agreement part is by majority rule and not individual consent.

However, the basic principle of insurance is that individuals share their risks. That is met in #1.

Now, #1 is inherently socialistic, especially if combined with a progressive premium structure (such as premiums coming from income taxes). Socialism and insurance aren't exactly the same things though they are often conflated.

I agree that if you want unsocialized health care, then #2 is your only stable choice.

Solution: If you know you are likely to develop cancer in your 50s, then set aside the savings from your cheap (pre-40s) insurance and be prepared.

That isn't a completely horrible scenario, since it at least sounds feasible. However, it is a heck of a future to look forward to, and it will be a chain around your neck all your life saving up to it.

Parents take out insurance on the child before conception, at a cost dependent on their own genetic profiles and the resulting likelihood of hereditary genetic issues.

And what do you do with kids whose parents chose not to take out such a policy? Essentially this makes the financial/health outcome of a child completely dependent on the actions of their parents before they were even born. Most would not consider it just to make a child pay for their parents' irresponsibility, or their own inability to pay.

Sure, in a Darwinian sense everything you suggest would work. Those who are unfortunate to have bad genes are just predestined to be poor and die young. Those who are fortunate to have good genes are predestined to not be shackled by paying for those who do not. To some extent our genes predestine much of our success already, but I doubt society will be willing to stomach this in such a blatant way. It is kind of like putting a price on life - we all do it but you're not allowed to talk about it.

It is far more likely that the majority of society will vote to adopt laws enacting my scenario #1. They will then send you a tax bill to help pay for it. If you don't pay for it, you will be hunted down and sent to prison. You can of course write diaries in prison about how unjust this is for anybody who cares to read them, which will not be the majority who voted to put you there.

My point wasn't to declare the moral rightness of either #1 or #2. My point was only that only scenarios #1 or #2 are sustainable. This is as opposed to mythical scenarios that people dream up where health insurance will be cheap and everybody can wait until they have a tumor diagnosed to start paying for it.

Re:Employers (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 3 years ago | (#34827418)

Insurance is basically an agreement of a bunch of people to share a single risk pool.

No, insurance is when you enter into an agreement to trade (low probability, high cost) for (high probability, low cost). Aside from overhead, the risk (i.e. probability * cost) remains unchanged. It is true that having a pool of similar (but independent!) insurance risks makes it much easier to offer insurance without courting bankruptcy, since the actual costs tend to average out, but the pool itself is not in any way mandatory, and is really irrelevant from the insured's point-of-view.

That isn't a completely horrible scenario, since it at least sounds feasible. However, it is a heck of a future to look forward to, and it will be a chain around your neck all your life saving up to it.

As opposed to not knowing, in which case I'd have to prepare for the possibility of cancer anyway, while simultaneously subsidizing those with higher (undisclosed) risk than myself? No thanks; I'd rather know what to expect.

And what do you do with kids whose parents chose not to take out such a policy? Essentially this makes the financial/health outcome of a child completely dependent on the actions of their parents before they were even born.

It is the responsibility of the parents to provide for their child's welfare. Perhaps you didn't realize this, but the mere existence of a child is "completely dependent on the actions of [its] parents before [it] was even born."

I am not really suggesting anything new so far as the child's financial and medical dependence on its parents is concerned. Rather, I am merely suggesting the obvious strategy for insuring against genetic risks realized at conception. There is no such thing as real insurance against an event with a known outcome, so you have to take out insurance before the outcome is known—in this case, before the child's genetic makeup is determined.

Most would not consider it just to make a child pay for their parents' irresponsibility, or their own inability to pay.

Justice has nothing to do with it. No one deserves to be given life, much less a good start with responsible, fore-sighted, affluent, and loving parents. These things are gifts, and each gift demands a multi-generational effort, parents passing on their accumulated character, wisdom, education, material investments, and love on to their children.

Should anyone happen to not be completely satisfied with their life, as easy or hard as it may be, they have always had the option of returning it for a full refund.

It is far more likely that the majority of society will vote to adopt laws enacting my scenario #1. They will then send you a tax bill to help pay for it. If you don't pay for it, you will be hunted down and sent to prison.

Thank you for providing the clearest possible illustration of exactly what is wrong with your preferred society, and the petty criminals who would choose it. I merely suggest that individuals be permitted to choose their own path without interference from or violence toward anyone else, and you counter with threats of theft, kidnapping, and extortion.

Re:Employers (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34827806)

I am not really suggesting anything new so far as the child's financial and medical dependence on its parents is concerned.

Actually, you are. Most states have insurance programs for children, so that the care of children is not impacted by the financial status of their parents. This coverage terminates at adulthood, since the expectation is that everybody should be able to provide for themselves at this point. That expectation probably would not hold in a society where insurance is unattainable by many, regardless of effort or even intellect/ creativity/ etc.

Should anyone happen to not be completely satisfied with their life, as easy or hard as it may be, they have always had the option of returning it for a full refund.

Keep in mind those enacting public policy need to stand for election. I suspect that this would not go over well as a campaign slogan... :)

Thank you for providing the clearest possible illustration of exactly what is wrong with your preferred society, and the petty criminals who would choose it.

Hey, I never said that it was fair, or that I'd even vote this way. From pure self-interest the kind of society you advocate is likely to work out far better for me anyway. However, reality is the world we live in, and given a choice between my scenarios #1 and #2, I think that society is going to be more likely to choose #1. Well, actually, they're just as likely to bungle around with non-solutions like price controls or prevention of exclusions until they end up at #1 or #2 anyway, probably at a higher cost than if they just cut straight to the chase.

you counter with threats of theft, kidnapping, and extortion

Uh, I'd be the last person to take a dime of yours. Your fellow citizens, however, have likely already demonstrated plenty of willingness to do exactly this, assuming you live in just about any first-world nation out there. Socialism doesn't work if those who don't need it get to opt-out.

Don't take it personally. I'm just telling you what is likely to happen one of these days - don't shoot the messenger.

Of course, the reality is that this will be something that develops gradually over time. Our understanding of genetics will improve and as that happens traditional insurance will become less and less tenable over time. By the time it doesn't work society will have moved on.

Re:Employers (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 3 years ago | (#34829800)

I am not really suggesting anything new so far as the child's financial and medical dependence on its parents is concerned.

Actually, you are. Most states have insurance programs for children, so that the care of children is not impacted by the financial status of their parents.

Actually, I'm not. It is these pseudo-charity programs which are new, and even they only exist in certain areas. For all of human history, including the present in many areas, children have depended on their parents for their financial and medical well-being.

Hey, I never said that it was fair, or that I'd even vote this way. ... However, reality is the world we live in, and given a choice between my scenarios #1 and #2, I think that society is going to be more likely to choose #1. ... I'd be the last person to take a dime of yours.

My apologies. I suppose I read your comment as being slanted in favor of #1, but in retrospect you never did say outright that you favored that approach. I have to admit that I tend to agree with your projection (unfortunately), though that may just be the cynic in me speaking. I'd like to think there is a bit more hope for our future than that.

Re:Employers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820762)

That's what you're afraid of? For real?

Step up a notch. How about insurances wanting a genetic check before they insure you? Based on flimsy, at best, "evidence" that this or that gene has a disposition towards causing this or that disease? Or let's take a step into a more orwellian society and have them offer "approved" genetic material for your next offspring so they get insured more cheaply.

Re:Employers (1)

blackbeak (1227080) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820812)

Please, no more steps toward Orwellian society! (Or should I say: Another step or two and you'll pass it right by!)

Re:Employers (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820906)

If Orwell could see our world today he'd probably cry out "Dammit, that was a warning not a bloody manual".

Re:Employers (4, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821378)

That's only a concern in the US. In the rest of the developed world (including Australia), anyone can get health insurance regardless of their DNA. I genuinely feel sorry for you that your country has created a situation where your first thought about technology like this is how big companies will use it to screw you over.

It's also illegal for employers to require genetic testing to screen applicants. I'm pretty sure that's illegal in the US as well, and there's nothing to indicate that will change. So I really don't know what the GP is basing his paranoia on.

Re:Employers (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820772)

A lot of employers, especially in the mining sector require you to get a medical before your allowed to commence work. Some even have regular Drug/Alcohol tests, especially if you work on a mine site.

Re:Employers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821020)

WTF has that got to do with a genetic test, you retarded cunt?

Re:Employers (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821050)

Umm.. most every medical these days has a genetic test or ten.

Where have you been foul mouth coward?

Re:Employers (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820776)

So how long will it be before employers require this testing to screen applicants out for learning disabilities, probabilities of alcoholism/addiction, and probability of getting cancer?

It's called the anti-discrimination act and I'm sincerely sorry your nation hasn't got one.

But seeing as the article is about an Australian company, Australian workers don't need to worry (doubly so seeing as we aren't dependent on our employers for health care, we have one of those evil universal systems)

Re:Employers (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822104)

I suspect that that time will come, if not at the employer level, earlier in the game(fertility clinics, the best schools, etc.) However, unless these guys represent a considerable leap over the usual state of cheap genetics testing, they won't be bringing GATTACA with them just yet.

There are certain genetic diagnoses that we have nailed down well enough, and which tell us things we would not otherwise be able to determine(in oncology, for example, we have learned a great deal about the assorted subtypes and variants of cancers that used to be identified simply by location of origin and rough size. Some types of tumor mutations respond well to certain drugs, others to others, others not well at all, that sort of thing); but most of the really good tests are either of highly niche interest("Doc, one of my parents had Huntington's disease, I won't know until the symptoms start to show at ~40; but I need to know whether I can start a family now...") or patented and expensive and thus not included in low-cost broad assays.

While the fact that "Gene sequencing through the mail" is no longer a literal fraud; but a simple mail order service, is pretty impressive, the results it provides tend to be a welter of cut-and-paste about genetic factors that are either relatively poorly researched and not well known, or which work in concert with dozens or hundreds of others("schizophrenia gene" anybody?). The remainder will be a bunch of generic good advice(eat right, exercise, and get regular sleep) dressed up in inferences that barely reach statistical significance about your personal response to such inputs...

While, as I said, I have no doubt that we'll be doing genetic eugenics on an informal basis as soon or sooner than we actually have the knowledge to do so; but this isn't it. A family/applicant life history would tend to be much more informative(that, of course, is something that private insurers already take, some amount of applicant life history is something that interviewers already seek to determine, and people have been gossiping and making/breaking marriages based on speculation about various families' perceived risk factors for centuries)...

Oblig flamebait (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823218)

Actually they will want to find out if your ancestors include English convicts. But don't worry, the Government will make it illegal to discriminate against you if you can't produce any.

I am entitled to write this because my cousin is an Ocker.

How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (3, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820588)

Wonder how the false paternity rate is in Austrailia. I'm sure it's about to go down. Remember guys, genetic testing on day zero.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820818)

I think Australia actually requires this already. Could be wrong.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820960)

I'd be amazed if it were. I know in the UK and the US, there has been rather vehement protests when bills to mandate said testing have been raised.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820864)

Based on my perception of Australia, I can't help but think this has something to do with maintaining genetic purity...

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820916)

I assure you there is nothing pure about our genes. In fact we are arguably the worlds experts at assimilation. The city of Bendigo in Victoria used to be a third Chinese. It still is but you won't see many Chinese faces there.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823720)

G'day! We're the Aussies, mate. Your biological and technological distinctivities will be added to our own. Ain't worth it ta resist, unless that's the sorta thing you're inta. Then I know a bangin' honey in Perth that'll do ya real good for th' right price!

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821578)

Err what?

This might have been accurate 60 years ago but modern Australia is a melting pot - comparable with the US in its immigration heyday. Today, over one-quarter of Australians were born overseas. Not merely 'have ancestors from overseas' - 25% were actually ~born~ overseas and have become naturalised Australians during their lifetimes. What's more, a full 5% of Australia's population is overseas at any given time, and close to 50% of people travel outside the country at least once a year. So the rate of people meeting and marrying overseas (and hence bringing back family) is higher than in many countries.

Hell I'm not even 30 years old and the population of Australia has risen by 50% just during my lifetime. That's almost entirely immigration-related (our natural birth rate would barely replace deaths).

In my workplace I can only think of 2 or 3 people who were actually born in Australia. The rest? Several Chinese, a few Indians, a Singaporean, a few Brits, a Sri Lankan, heaps of New Zealanders, and even a Canadian and two or three Americans. My wife (who is herself an immigrant) was stunned when she started working in Australia: "Almost everyone at my work is from a different country. There's like 20 different accents among 30 people!"

Anyway, point is, Australia is pretty multicultural these days and generally does a decent job of integrating immigrants into society. Not perfect by any stretch, but at least you don't get anywhere near the degree of 'people clumping only in their own ethnic neighbourhoods' as you do in some other nations.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34829356)

generally does a decent job of integrating immigrants into society.

Except for a particular religious block that do not want to assimilate and throw a hissy fit if you want bacon on your sandwich from KFC.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820888)

I'm sure it's about to go down.

It's turtles . . . all the way down . . .

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823400)

Wonder how the false paternity rate is in Austrailia.

Probably about 5%. Data suggest values between 2 and 25% false paternity (child fathered by someone other than the mother's socially pair-bonded partner) depending mostly on how hierarchical the society is, and there can be variation within a country due do sub-culture differences.

As somewhat polygamous, pair-bonding social primates, the optimum mating strategy for humans is for females to pair-bond with the highest-status male they can and then get pregnant from a higher-status male. For males it is to impregnate as many women as possible. Naively, "men are stupid (indiscriminate) and women are dishonest" is not a bad way to understand our basic proclivities.

Any civilization peopled by individuals who want a life that is more than a state of constant tribal or clan warfare needs to deal with these tendencies--just as we deal with our tendency to murder, which has a similar origin. Relatively flat distributions of social benefits seem to do the job. Social democracies like the candanavian nations have very low rates of false paternity, while in places like Somalia its very high.

Liberal democracies, like the US, Canada and Australia, are mid-to-low-range.

Genetic testing for paternity ought to be routine, and has the opportunity to be as socially disruptive as the Pill was a generation or two ago.

Re:How is the false paternity rate in Austrailia? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34831322)

Genetic testing for paternity ought to be routine, and has the opportunity to be as socially disruptive as the Pill was a generation or two ago.

Which makes it very scary for some very loud people on the public scene. Personally, I can't wait.

Scammin'! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820590)

Let's bring back phrenology

Re:Scammin'! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820796)

I was thinking about the same.

Genetic typing is still in its infancy. We're a far cry from knowing just what genetic information leads to which behaviour or problem. We're looking at letters in a book, maybe finding out what certain words mean, but reading "cock" and "ass" and jumping to the conclusion it's gay porn is a bit far of a leap. Could just as well be a child's story about a rooster and a donkey.

Re:Scammin'! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34826936)

reading "cock" and "ass" and jumping to the conclusion it's gay porn is a bit far of a leap. Could just as well be a child's story about a rooster and a donkey.

Or for that matter straight port.

Moving goal posts (2, Insightful)

Andy Smith (55346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820594)

Regardless of the ethics, controversy, or popularity of whatever is being regulated, regulation should, once set, remain largely unchanged. If the government sets out rules for business to operate, then a business following those rules -- not "working around" them -- should be able to continue trading. If the government then adjusts the regulatory rules, specifically to shut down certain businesses, those business should be able to claim compensation, which of course would come from our taxes. We may or may not like what a particular company is doing, but if we (via government) tell them it's okay to go ahead and start-up, we shouldn't set about shutting them down shortly after.

What I'm trying to say is, governments shouldn't mess people around by giving them a set of rules and then changing the rules.

Re:Moving goal posts (4, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820632)

More inflexibility in government. I can't possibly see how that could go wrong.

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

!eopard (981784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820634)

This is *exactly* what government does - propose, debate and pass laws, add clauses against identified workarounds/loopholes, clarifying and updating terminology etc. Have a look at HANSAARD one day.
Why else would you need a new ATO ETAX program every year? It's because of the changed laws and clauses for our tax legislation.
Note - not saying this is a good thing, it's just how things are. Refinement of existing laws and introduction of new ones. It would be nice to see more obsolete legislation removed though...

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820658)

This is *exactly* what government does - propose, debate and pass laws, add clauses against identified workarounds/loopholes, clarifying and updating terminology etc. Have a look at HANSAARD one day...

Nitpicking - I thought it is the parliament that passes the laws?
Not saying the govt cannot be a source of legislation proposals, but I wouldn't like to have it able to approve them without any control.
If the taxes change, is only because the taxation laws allow the govt to manage how current taxes are applied. I seem to remember that the introduction of the GST still required parliament approval.

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820742)

"Nitpicking - I thought it is the parliament that passes the laws?"

Government is the majority of parliment, most laws only require a simple majority in both houses to pass (eg: income tax rules), certain classes of law requre more than a simple majority (eg: appointing a new GG), some require agreement from the states (eg: your GST example, since it replaced state sales taxes), and some require a referendum (constitutional changes).

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820814)

"Nitpicking - I thought it is the parliament that passes the laws?"

Government is the majority of parliment,

Not when the Parliament is a hung one [wikipedia.org] , in which cases whatever law proposals the govt injects may or may not pass.
The same happen when the conscience votes [wikipedia.org] come into play (even if the govt party support a law/policy, some of its own MP-es may not agree with when it comes to voting it).

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

!eopard (981784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820746)

Yeah I was staying fairly generic in not separating out our levels & types of government :)
My understanding is that changes to law are raised by ministers and debated in the relevant federal/state house. If passed (by the house for state, or both house and senate for federal) they are sent to agencies to implement and administer.

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820852)

Yeah I was staying fairly generic in not separating out our levels & types of government :) My understanding is that changes to law are raised by ministers ...

Not only by ministers.
Any Member can introduce a proposed law (bill) but most are introduced by the Government. To become law, bills must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. They may start in either house but the majority of bills are introduced in the House of Representatives. [aph.gov.au]
Other countries (not Australia) allow citizens to propose laws or require a referendum (if enough number of signatures are collected).

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820724)

Can't look at Hansard. It keeps getting blocked by our profanity filters.

Re:Moving goal posts (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821608)

Haha +1 funny (if I had mod points)...

The Australian Parliament certainly is one of the more entertaining and colourful legislatures to watch ;) It's quite endearing actually, although to foreign, non-Westminster-system eyes, it can seem quite uncivilised and chaotic at times. (For comparison, check out a video of the American Congress sitting ... it's very, very polite and orderly by comparison - no interruptions, no haggling, no jokes at other members' expense, and no cardboard cutouts of the Prime Minister ;)

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822808)

Australia isn't unique in this. See the Irish parliament [youtube.com] for another example. My favourite, however, is the polite behaviour in the Welsh Assembly Government - in their first sitting, one of the members referred to another as 'the honourable' and the speaker interrupted him, saying 'there are no honourable members here, boyo'.

Re:Moving goal posts (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820672)

If the government sets out rules for business to operate, then a business following those rules -- not "working around" them -- should be able to continue trading.

While usually I'd agree with this statement, business models designed to deliberately evade the spirit/intent of a law fall (to my view) into a different category.

When an entity is operating in a way designed to flaunt a technicality it's perfectly reasonable (and predictable) for the government to legislate around the loophole. Such affected entities do not deserve to be compensated in court, though you are possibly right that under current law they would be.

As an example, if I invent a new drug designed to mimic the properties of an illegal drug, but is chemically or otherwise measurably different to said drug, how much sympathy do you suppose I'll provoke when the government does the obvious and outlaws my product?

(CAPTCHA: "expected")

Re:Moving goal posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820970)

cheap caps [ocaps.com]

Re:Moving goal posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34829342)

I'm in general against over-regulation, but to be honest, you have it completely backwards. Businesses should judge the risk of change in regulation and run their own affairs judiciously to avoid the need for it. Society should *not* be held hostage to outdated or bad regulations just because some business owner went and made a bad bet.

Next step: Plasmids! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34820666)

Who knows how long it'll be till we have people walking around firing bolts of lightning everywhere! Then the ADAM takes control and we'll have to nuke the place.

School creds are so last century (2)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820674)

Why bother with schools and diplomas, go straight to the genome. Every new employee at my corporation needs certain DNA preset and only the approved array of good genes.

/s

Re:School creds are so last century (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34825602)

I don't see what a person's genes have to do with hiring them. You don't know things because of your genes, you know things because you learned them. If some genes make you predisposed to learning more, then we're already doing genetic testing by hiring the smartest applicants.

Gattaca (2)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820682)

Yay toilet brushes for everyone unless your genes are good enough, that is if we even let you be born.

A good time for this. (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820720)

Only last week there were warnings about dodgy DNA test kits being mailed out. I'm sure the masses won't equate the two.

Re:A good time for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34821216)

There is nothing dodgy about the technology in these services. They are all based on Illumina SNP chips, which are the de facto standard used in most high quality research in health related genomic associations.The results they present are based on high quality articles in peer reviewed literature - usually journals with very high impact factors. Most of these offerings also have tight curation SOPs, which mean that unless a result has been replicated in repeat studies it wont be presented to customers. They usually have some way of dealing with the 'Winners Curse' phenomenon - the fact that initial reports of association are usually biased upwards.

Having said that, these risk estimates *are* likely to change as research accumulates. Although the science reported is certainly not dodgy, it is possible to make dodgy claims about the impact of that science. Whether or not these companies are ethical depends primarily on the way in which they market their services - do they make inflated claims about the proven relevance of the research, or are they honest about current limitations. From what I have seen of their material, they vary. Some are quite open about the status of the technology, and some
quite definitely make inflated claims.

I think this is predominantly a bio geek market - targeted at people with a college education, and probably having done a few molecular biology courses. That is actually a large market.

The medical establishment don't like this, because most GPs have not kept up with developments in Genomics - in Australia, most GPs don't even use a computer during the patient consultation (McInnes et al, MJA 2006 185(2) 88-91),
The biggest challenge of personal genomics will be in educating the medical profession.

Re:A good time for this. (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822868)

Whoosh, This [abc.net.au] is what I'm talking about.

Appropriate Slashdot Quote (1)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820754)

Seems todays quote appears to be oddly appropriate.

There's nothing like a good dose of another woman to make a man appreciate his wife. -- Clare Booth Luce

23andme is already available in Aus ? (1)

RebelWithoutAClue (578771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34820770)

Wait, 23andme already ships to Australia, and I'm pretty sure they respect local laws. How does this work again ?

I though Australia was free market... (0)

jhobbs (659809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821194)

"After the banning of direct-to-consumer. . ." I'm confused. This isn't direct to insurance provider, this isn't direct to employer, this isn't direct to medical professional. This is direct to me. So your saying I can't go to the local Walgreen's and buy a home test kit to see what secrets my dna holds? Not even for shits and giggles? So, that would make my nifty living room sofa art (www.dna11.com) illegal? I'm dumbfounded. Its my DNA, I should be able to do what ever I damn well please with it. Test it, change it, copyright it, sell it, clone it. . . If I have money and boredom there should be absolutely no one that should be able to tell me I can't solicit a test from any company i want for any of my genetic material I feel like having tested. Does this make things like sending your DNA to NatGeo to see what ancient tribal groups you are from illegal? Or does this only prevent you from being tested for genetic defects?

Re:I though Australia was free market... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34822320)

The argument is that there is information here that you are not qualified to understand. We want to protect you by denying you access to this information. And we are doing this only because we have your best interests at heart; trust us - we are the Doctors' trade union - how could we possibly have an agenda other than your best interests? The Church gave up on this flawed argument in the 17th Century.

Re:I though Australia was free market... (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823282)

No, Australia has corporations. No free market there, only a market of protected special-interests hiding from liability behind the skirts of the Nanny State.

Good thing I am in Germany (2)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821244)

Just sent in my sample for 23andMe. It is none of the goverment's business what I do with my saliva.

Because your doctor is an expert? (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821582)

You're not prescribing yourself drugs or performing self-surgery, so what's the point of involving a doctor in the process, other than bolstering the medical industry with unnecessary additional bills? I doubt your average family physician knows much more about genetics - especially on any level that would truly be valuable in evaluating a genetic test - than your average slashdotter.

Re:Because your doctor is an expert? (1)

mibe (1778804) | more than 3 years ago | (#34823856)

Wrong. Genetic stories on this site constantly have comments that would be answered with a quick year or two in medical school (or some Google for you auto-didacts). Even if we assume that "average slashdotter" knows more than "average person" it has been my experience that a doctor will still know more.

Re:Because your doctor is an expert? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34824854)

I suspect that your average biologist or biochemist would be at least as qualified or more qualified than the average MD to interpret the results of genetic testing (with the help of Google scholar perhaps), so why make the filter an MD which includes tons of completely irrelevant education (like how to chop people up and put them back together).

A big problem with health care expenses is that we have one kind of certification that really matters for 99% of everything, and a big shortage of people with that certification. Oh, and if you have that certification you can't get a hospital job unless you agree to work 18-hour shifts, or whatever (gee, wonder why so few want to go into it).

We need to get away from MD vs non-MD in our healthcare laws, and employ a system of triage. If somebody has an earache should it be necessary to have an MD prescribe antibiotic drops, or whatever? This of course requires an expensive emergency room visit, or suffering a few days until a doctor's office is open at a really inconvenient time.

We need a system where 80% of first-line problems are addressed for $20 by somebody with a basic college education. By all means refer the more serious cases to higher levels of expertise, up to the best practitioners in the world. Standardized processes (and prices) for common maladies and the use of triage would solve probably 80% of the health care crisis...

ancestry information.. (5, Funny)

Simon Rowe (1206316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34821794)

you're descended from a criminal.

Re:ancestry information.. (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34822780)

Just as are many of Americans, or any of the various countries where the UK had penal colonies, such as in the USA.

Just are many British (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34824620)

I'm pretty sure the guy whose name I inherit was an illegal immigrant in 1066.

Gattaca Coda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34823898)

In a few short years, scientists will have completed the Human Genome Project, the mapping of all the genes that make up a human being. We have now evolved to the point where we can direct our own evolution.
Had we acquired this knowledge sooner, the following people may never have been born:
Abraham Lincoln — Marfan Syndrome
Emily Dickinson — Manic Depression
Vincent Van Gogh — Epilepsy
Albert Einstein — Dyslexia
John F. Kennedy — Addison's Disease
Rita Hayworth — Alzheimer's Disease
Ray Charles — Primary Glaucoma
Stephen Hawking — Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Jackie Joyner-Kersee — Asthma
Of course, the other birth that may never have taken place is your own...

Re:Gattaca Coda (1)

DG (989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34824742)

Your argument doesn't make sense.

Those people's accomplishments don't have anything to do with their genetics.

I would think that Steve Hawking would still be Steve Hawking if he didn't have ALS. I think he'd be far more happy and productive if he didn't have ALS. I wouldn't wish ALS on my worst enemy - why wish it on Steve?

It has been within our power to eliminate any number of dangerous genetic illnesses for about 75 years now. That we choose not to says a lot about human ignorance.

DG

Exceptions (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34829598)

From TFA:

"Lumigenix, which has a US licence to carry out risk testing, differs from some of its competitors in not reporting on risk for Alzheimer's disease, genetic markers that carry a high risk for breast cancer, and carrier status for heritable diseases."

So what good is it?

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