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ITV 'gene testing' complaints

16th November 2007

The British Society for Human Genetics have complained to Ofcom in regards to the ITV programme Killer in Me, screened on November 8.

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Killer in Me looked at four celebrity participants, who underwent genetic testing to determine if they were at risk of future illness.

Dr Rob Elles, chairman of the BSHG, said in the letter of complaint: "The BSHG is concerned that the uncritical journalistic and broadcasting standards demonstrated in this programme risk undermining the confidence of the public in the application of genetics, which has great potential to improve healthcare."

Dr Elles said the programme could have done more to show how health advice could benefit people and offset the "assurances" to the participants that they had a low risk of developing "particular" health problems.

The BSHG criticised the "unsubstantiated and unvalidated" tests and said they were not a valid way of accurately predicting if people would go on to develop a serious illness.

They also said that ITV were guilty of providing "undeclared advertising" for the company which provided the tests and did not allow the programme's audience enough additional information to fully comprehend the programme's content.

A spokesman for the broadcaster said that the complaints were "misdirected."

He said the programme did not claim that the tests would offer "a guaranteed diagnosis of illness" and that the other contributing factors which could cause health problems had been made clear.




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