Nutrigenomics is a subspecialty of nutrition science which aims to understand how gene-diet interactions influence individuals' response to food, disease susceptibility, and population health. Yet ethical enquiry into this field is being outpaced by nutrigenomics bioscience. The ethical issues surrounding nutrigenomics face the challenges of a rapidly evolving field which bring forward the additional dimension of crossdisciplinary integrative research between social and biomedical sciences. This article outlines the emerging nutrigenomics definitions and concepts and analyzes the existing ethics literature concerning personalized nutrition and presents points to consider over ethical issues regarding future nutrigenomics applications. The interest in nutrigenomics coincides with a shift in emphasis in medicine and biosciences toward prevention of future disease susceptibilities rather than treatment of already established disease. Hence, unique ethical issues emerge concerning the extent to which nutrigenomics can alter our relation to food, boundaries between health and disease, and the folklore of medical practice. Nutrigenomics can result in new social values, norms, and responsibilities for both individuals and societies. Nutrigenomics is not only another new application of -omics technologies in the context of gene-diet interactions. Nutrigenomics may fundamentally change the way we perceive human illness while shifting the focus and broadening the scope of health interventions from patients to healthy individuals. In resource- and time-limited healthcare settings, this creates unique ethical dilemmas and distributive justice issues. Ethical aspects of nutrigenomics applications should be addressed proactively, as this new science develops and increasingly coalesces with other applications of genomics in medicine and public health.
- public-health nutrition
- genetic revolution
- food research
- genomic era
Levesque, L., Ozdemir, V., Gremmen, B., & Godard, B. (2008). Integrating anticipated nutrigenomics bioscience applications with ethical aspects. OMICS - A Journal of Integrative Biology, 12(1), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1089/omi.2007.0042