OXFORD - British government and insurance industry experts are facing a stand off over genetic screening. On the same day the Association of British Insurers unveiled its code of practice on how companies should use and handle genetic information, the U.K. Human Genetics Advisory Commission - an independent body appointed to advise the U.K. government on developments in human genetics - last week called for a two-year moratorium on the use of genetic test results.

People should not be asked to provide results of genetic testing in order to obtain insurance, the HGAC argued in a report to British ministers. "It is far too early to be able to reach any conclusions about how genetic testing can be used to predict life expectancy or the onset of ill health," commented commission chairman Sir Colin Campbell. Although HGAC is not a statutory authority, it is unlikely that the British government would turn down the commission's recommendations.