An ethics network

6.54 The Inquiry recognises the variety of relevant considerations in ethics and especially bioethics. Many of these are of relatively recent origin. The word ‘bioethics’ was coined only thirty years ago and the systematic application of human genetic knowledge is even more recent. However, traditions of medical ethics, to which modern bioethics owes much, have a longer history. The promises and risks of the use of genetic information in the future are imminent and to an important extent unforeseeable.

6.55 In this context, several submissions recognised the wisdom of not locating the source of ethical guidance, whether to individual citizens, professionals, governments or communities, in any one person or expert group.[37] Rather, the need for a functional, open and responsive network of citizens, experts, professionals and public agencies with interests in how and why genetic information is collected, stored, used and disclosed will be needed. Such a network would need to be open to the range of ethical considerations that have been referred to, and relied on, in this Report. The HGCA structure would be an important part of this network, if not its hub.

[37] ACROD Limited, Submission G239, 19 December 2002; C Nagle, Submission G196, 26 November 2002; I Robertson, Submission G209, 29 November 2002; Department of Human Services South Australia, Submission G288, 23 December 2002.