Knesset advances legislation for new genetic database for babies

Despite widespread objections, last week the Science and Technology Committee of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) approved, for first reading, the bill concerning the establishment of a genetic database for all babies born in Israel. The Knesset member promoting the bill is Mr. Meir Sheetrit, together with the Ministry of Health, as part of the proposal to amend the Genetic Information Law. The bill proposes that a blood test be taken from every baby born in Israel, and will be genetically tested for the early detection of diseases. However, the nature of the database, how it works, and what will be done with the samples taken, is not yet fully addressed. As part of the discussion surrounding this issue, the Ministry of Justice expressed strong disapproval over the establishment of the database and noted that it could lead to severe invasion of privacy and to the establishment of a far larger national genetic database in the more distant future. In contrast, the legal advisor of the Science and Technology Committee noted that samples would be stored in the database for a period of only five years, with the possibility of extending this period if the information is kept anonymously. During the approval process for the first reading, a section of the bill was omitted, which allowed security authorities to use the samples for the purpose of locating missing persons or identifying unknown persons. Source: Calcalist (In Hebrew, by: Omer Kabir).