As predicted, the Human Tissue Bill has,passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons, with no discussion or amendment of either the "Section 46 Offences relating to non-consensual analysis of DNA" or of the"coach and horses" exemptions from this section under "Schedule 5 Part 2 Use for an Excepted purpose"
The 99 amendments and the shenanigans involved witht he Labour Government's 3 line Whip to defeat an amendment calling for presumed consent for transplant organ dononation, did mean that neither of these sections was debated.
The debate revealed that the Government had not bothered to clarify previous questions about RNA as opposed to DNA. RNA can also be sequenced and analysed using similar techniques as are used for DNA, and together with a range of other genetic tests and analyseses could be used for similar purposes as DNA, all, at present, completely unregulated.
The legislation totally fails to clearly define what is meant by "DNA analysis" or to understand the similarities and differences between RNA and DNA.
What are the rules, for example, which cover tissue samples and non-consensual analysis and data handling and retention, when trying to determine genetic information about a contagous viral disease ? As viruses contain RNA but not DNA, is this whole area simply not covered by the Human Tissue Bill, and if not, why not ?
The Minister of State, Department of Health, Ms Rosie Winterton has promised to seek technical advice.
This lack of informed debate on what is a vital technological, ethical and privacy issue, would be better served in a separate Genetic Sequencing Data Protection Bill , rather than having been "nodded through" as a peripheral issue to the Human Tissue Bill.