The governance of genomic information: will it come of age?

Langlois, Adèle (2006). The governance of genomic information: will it come of age? Genomics, Society and Policy, 2(3), article no. 49.



The completion of the Human Genome Project has opened up unprecedented possibilities in healthcare, but also ethical and social dilemmas in terms of how these can be achieved. Genomic information can be seen as a 'global public good' (GPG), in that it is represented by knowledge in the public domain and across national boundaries. Lack of investment, infrastructure and expertise in developing countries means that they are unable to take advantage of these GPG characteristics to address their health needs, fuelling fears of a growing 'genomics divide'. Some have suggested an international knowledge sharing and capacity building network, a Global Genomics Initiative, as a means to harness the potential of genomics to reduce inequalities in health between North and South. Three UNESCO declarations also call for cooperation between developed and developing countries in genomics research and science and technology in general. Using international relations theories around global governance and networks as a conceptual framework, this paper examines whether these initiatives are likely to succeed in providing effective governance of genomics.

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