Obtaining informed consent may not be necessary to conduct biobank research, says a group of ethicists from Uppsala University in Sweden. In the British Medical Journal, the authors argue that biobank research is an instance in which personal freedoms may be restricted for societal benefit. "Just as I benefit from a clean environment regardless of who has refrained from polluting it, I benefit from increased medical knowledge obtained through biobank research regardless of whose sample has been used," the authors say. Then, they add that stored tissues and data may be used without informed consent as long as approval is obtained from an ethics board. As Nature's News Blog notes, such a system would go against guidelines set by the UNESCO International Declaration on Human Genetic Data and the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences. "In a way that is the purpose of the paper: to question those guidelines," lead author Joanna Forsberg tells Nature News.
Oct 06, 2011