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Proceed with diligence
  1. Bernice S Elger
  1. Correspondence to Professor Bernice S Elger, Institute for Biomedical Ethics and Cenre for Legal Medicine, Universities of Basel and Geneva, Missionsstr. 24, CH-4055 Basel, Switzerland; bernice.elger{at}unige.ch

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‘Proceed with caution’ has been the mantra of ‘the recombinant DNA era’.1 A similar mantra is enshrined in European technology ethics where it is also known as the ‘precautionary principle’.2 “The principle can be invoked if there is a reasonable concern for harm to human health […] in the light of persisting scientific uncertainty or lack of scientific consensus'.2 The article by Mand et al is timely and confirms hauntingly that due to scientific uncertainty, the debate concerning genetic testing of children for adult onset diseases has remained extraordinarily unchanged.3 Undeniably, over the last 20 years recommendations against such testing have persisted, and they have been based heavily on arguments referring to the negative consequences of such tests.4 ,5 In parallel, those in favour of testing called attention to its positive consequences. As Mand et al have accurately pointed out; most of the arguments used against or in favour of testing are ‘testable empirical claims’. Hence, it is particularly surprising that the studies about consequences …

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