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J. Craig Venter to Testify on Genetic Privacy.

WASHINGTON, July 10 /PRNewswire/ --

J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., will testify Wednesday, June 11, at a hearing on genetic privacy conducted by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. The hearing begins at 12 noon in Room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Venter will be representing the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

BIO supports national legislation to ensure that individuals' personal medical information, including genetic information, is safeguarded against misuse. In 1996, BIO strongly supported barring discrimination on the part of group health plans based on "genetic information" during congressional consideration of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Today, BIO supports extending that protection to those covered by individual plans.

"The public must have confidence they can take advantage of technological developments without fear that the information gained from this technology will be used against them," said Dr. Venter. "For example, with the information individuals could get from genetic tests, they could take steps -- such as improving their diet, avoiding certain drugs or foods, and getting preventive medical care -- that are likely to improve their health. However, if individuals believe that this information will cost them their health insurance, they may not seek it."

President and chief scientific officer of Celera Genomics Corp., Dr. Venter was awarded the Biotechnology Heritage Award at the BIO 2001 convention last month in recognition of his pioneering work on the sequencing of the human genome. Before this groundbreaking success, he developed expressed sequence tags, a new strategy for gene discovery that has revolutionized the biological sciences. In addition to an article on the genome sequencing that was published in the February 2001 issue of Science magazine, Dr. Venter has published more than 160 research articles. At Celera, he is helping build the expertise and information that will enable scientists to transform the way in which health problems are diagnosed and treated.

After the hearing, a transcript of Dr. Venter's testimony will be available on BIO's Web site at http://www.bio.org .

BIO represents more than 950 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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Date:Jul 10, 2001
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