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California lawmaker proposes privacy protections for genetic data

February 21, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • State Senator Alex Padilla (DPacoima), center, listens to a staffer during a Rules Committee hearing in the state Capitol.
State Senator Alex Padilla (DPacoima), center, listens to a staffer during… (Robert Durell / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO-- Delving into an area once reserved for science fiction, state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) has introduced legislation that would prohibit the unauthorized collection, analysis or transfer of an individual’s genetic information.

The California Genetic Information Privacy Act, SB 222, is in response to research that is expected to make genomic sequencing and testing affordable to the public and routinely used in medical care, Padilla said.

 “I strongly support and believe in the promise of genomic research to improve public health and our quality of life,’’ said Padilla. "I also believe that stronger privacy protections should be in place to guard against the unauthorized access and illegitimate use of genomic data and information.’’

The MIT graduate said analysis of genetic material can allow for early detection of disease long before symptoms appear. But it also can help identify a person and discover the private health information of an individual and that individual’s relatives, the senator said.

“Advancement in genomic research and individual privacy must go hand in hand,’’ he said.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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