Ethical Issues

Genomics holds tremendous promise. Its influence is already being felt in critical areas, such as health, the environment and agriculture. But genomics also confronts us with many ethical considerations: stem cells, GMOs and the privacy of genetic information to name just a few. All these issues matter to both the public and decision makers.

Bartha Maria Knoppers, McGill University

Bartha Maria Knoppers is a Canadian lawyer specializing in the ethical aspects of genetics, genomics and biotechnology. In addition to being a world-renowned expert in this area, she holds the Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine and heads the McGill University Centre of Genomics and Policy.


The Génome Québec approach

Génome Québec is fully aware that the public has concerns about genomics. It’s only natural; genomics is a new science that opens up unprecedented, often unfamiliar, prospects for the future. As an organization whose job it is to fund major scientific research, Génome Québec is committed to transparency on the risks, advantages, hopes and breakthroughs associated with genomics.

This is why a central part of Génome Québec’s mission is to make sure the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social aspects – also called GE3LS - are an integral part of the genomics research approach and work.

GE3LS bringing science to society

HumGen International – There to answer your questions!

Did you know that the HumGen International Website makes available to the public a database of laws and policies on the ethical, legal and social issues raised by human genetics? It also features an FAQ section that speaks to many important subjects (the privacy of genetic information, genetic screening practices, links between genetic information and insurance companies, etc.).

Génome Québec invites you to consult the HumGen Website to learn more on the legislation and oversight of scientific research

Integrated GE3LS research complements large-scale genomics projects. It helps build a bridge between science and society and lends a broader perspective to research projects. Ultimately, this leads to scientific outcomes that are more useful to society and better adapted to its needs. GE3LS research also entails evaluating and assessing the implications and consequences of genomics for society.

Regulatory Frameworks Here and Around the World  

Given the many issues arising from genomics research, regulatory frameworks have been established at the regional, national and international levels. Génome Québec funds projects dealing with the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social aspects of genomics. Our goal is to contribute to the discussion on these regulatory frameworks, their implementation and their effectiveness.



Genetic Discrimination: Myth or Reality?

Genetic information gives us knowledge about a person’s current or future state of health. Should we worry about this information being accessed by potential employers or by insurance companies? Does genetic discrimination actually exist? Are their laws to protect us from it?

To learn more on the regulatory framework governing genetic discrimination, go to: HumGen.

Cellule souche

What Are Stem Cells?

Stem cells – not to be confused with cloning – have unique qualities, including the ability to self-renew by dividing. This makes them valuable allies for a host of applications in areas such as human health.

To learn more on stem cells, existing regulatory frameworks and related issues, click on this link: HumGen.


GMOs – For or Against?

GMOs can be considered either as an extension of current agricultural practices or as a break from them. With the help of genomics, GMOs are improving the quantity and quality of food available, but also raising important questions on our cultural views of life and human development.

See our Information Capsules