Insurers should not use genetic information to set premiums, according to four out of five people in a survey commissioned by the Human Genetics Commission.

Mori surveyed more than 1,000 people specially selected to represent the make-up of the UK population.

It revealed that three out of four people felt they had too little information on controls and biological development. Most have little or no confidence that rules and regulations are keeping pace with medical developments.

The survey report, released on March 2, said: “There is considerable concern about the use of genetic information by insurance companies or employers.

“Four out of five people believe that such information should not be used for setting insurance premiums.

“Older people (over 65) and Asian and black respondents are more likely to think that insurance companies and employers should be able to see the results of genetic tests.”

Commission chair Helena Kennedy said the survey highlighted a number of important reservations about genetics.

Yet an Association of British Insurers (ABI) spokesman said the organisation was not alarmed by the level of public antipathy demonstrated by the survey.

He said it was the expected outcome of a survey of people who have not had the issue explained to them.

“Of course, if you're asked in the street, that's what you'd say,” he said.

The survey is part of the commission's continuing consultation on its discussion document Whose Hands on Your Genes.