Epigenetic discrimination: Emerging applications of epigenetics pointing to the limitations of policies against genetic discrimination

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Abstract

© 2018 Dupras, Song, Saulnier and Joly. Over more than two decades, various policies have been adopted worldwide to restrict the use of individual genetic information for non-medical reasons by third parties and prevent 'genetic discrimination'. In this paper, we bring attention to the growing interest for individual epigenetic information by insurers and forensic scientists. We question whether such interest could lead to 'epigenetic discrimination' - the differential adverse treatment or abusive profiling of individuals or groups based on their actual or presumed epigenetic characteristics - and argue that we might already be facing the limitations of recently adopted normative approaches against genetic discrimination. First, we highlight some similarities and differences between genetic and epigenetic modifications, and stress potential challenges to regulating epigenetic discrimination. Second, we argue that most existing normative approaches against genetic discrimination fall short in providing oversight into the field of epigenetics. We conclude with a call for discussion on the issue, and the development of comprehensive and forward-looking preventive strategies against epigenetic discrimination.

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Dupras, C., Song, L., Saulnier, K. M., & Joly, Y. (2018). Epigenetic discrimination: Emerging applications of epigenetics pointing to the limitations of policies against genetic discrimination. Frontiers in Genetics, 9(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2018.00202

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