9 December 2000
Government Actuarys Department
New Kings Beam House
22 Upper Ground
London SE1 9RJ.
UK Forum for Genetics and Insurance
I have recently read the press release issued by the UK Forum for Genetics and Insurance, of which I believe you are deputy chairman, on GAIC application 01.1. I understand from The Actuary that the Genetics Group "contributed to" this statement. I think this press release is a particularly gross piece of spin-doctoring.
The truth is that the ABIs first application to the GAIC was of very poor quality. As with the widespread failure to give effect to the Genetics Code of Practice, this application suggested that the insurance industry is incapable of taking this matter seriously even on its on terms. David Wilkies report was quite scathing: "the evidence submitted by the ABI in support of their case is, in detail, very unsatisfactory", and he was of the view that it would not be accepted for publication in any reputable journal. Yet the UKFGI is so eager to promote the cause of the insurance industry and to cover up the truth that none of your three pages of spin-doctoring makes the slightest allusion to this.
As you know I disapprove of the GAIC in principle, since I believe that it is asking the wrong questions, and is in effect a conspiracy to prevent the correct questions from being asked. However even if one accepted the principle, it seems to me that if the GAIC had any integrity, it would have made some public criticism of this application, in line with the remarks of the reviewer. The approval, without adverse comment, of such a shoddy application suggests that the GAICs scrutiny is a sham and one in which the UKFGI and the Faculty & Institute of Actuaries have connived.
One day there is going to be written a detailed social history and analysis of the evolution of discrimination against people affected by genetic misfortune. This will include an examination of the motives and interests of organisations which promoted genetic discrimination; the motives and interests of those who were opposed to it; and the social consequences of the outcome. It will also examine international comparisons between hostile attitudes towards genetic misfortune (and disability more generally) and the relative influence within different countries of different professions. As with the earlier history of eugenics, this may result in the contributions of many distinguished scientists and organisations being seen in a very different light to that of their day.
Cc Peter Clark, Angus Macdonald