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Keywords:

  • biobanks, bioethics, blood donation, genetic information

Abstract

In recent years international bioethics bodies have made prominent declarations about the uses of donated tissue and related information in genetic research1. Following the ‘legislative’ mode of bioethics2, these organisations have put forward a number of general principles with a view to promoting the fair and equitable use of donated tissue in such research. However, government policies in this field are shaped differently in different national regimes. In this paper, I use recent debates in the UK about a national genetic ‘biobank’ to illustrate how the shape and texture of policy discussions surrounding the use of donated blood for genetic research have been built upon a prior national consensus that regarded blood as a public good.