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Ethic's concerning DNA profiling

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Introduction

Ethical concerns of developing a database of DNA profiles Genetic fingerprinting, more accurately known as DNA profiling, is the technique used to distinguish between individuals of the same species using only samples of their DNA. This break through in science came about by the British geneticist (now Sir) Professor Alec Jefferey at the University of Leicester in 1984, after he noticed that two humans DNA sequences will be in majority, similar, but that there are certain sequences in DNA (called Minisatellites) that are repeated and do not contribute to the function of DNA [1 and 3]. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information and the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. Each strand of DNA contains a sequence of bases called nucleotides, which are one of four chemicals: adenine, guanine, cytosine or thymine. As DNA has a double helix arrangement there are two anti-parallel chains, which are connected at each base. These bases only bond specifically with one other base. Adenine (A) will only bond to Thymine (T), and Guanine (G) will only bond to Cystosine (C) [2 and 4]. As there are many millions of base pairs in DNA, everyone's sequence differs. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore given that consent was required before taking the samples, and only of convicted criminals, it seems to be ethically reasonable. As it is good for the rest of society and by committing the crime the offender has brought the breach of their privacy upon themselves [5]. Following a change of the law on the 4th April 2001, all DNA collected by the police, for whatever purpose, whether or not the person has been charged or convicted, can be stored permanently without their consent [5]. Clearly this has gone past the point of the ethically right as now we have no choice whether or not our DNA is stored. This is most definitely a breach of our right to privacy, and shows the control and power that our police force posses. Today, the police of England and Wales have wider sampling powers than of any other police force across the world due to a succession of Acts of Parliament and legislative amendments [8]. This explains why proportionally the U.K has the largest forensic database in the whole world (more than 3.4million profiles by the end of 2005) [7]. There has to be a limit to police powers, DNA shouldn't be retained simply on the basis that it might turn out to be useful. ...read more.

Conclusion

He argued that under the present system the difficulties in securing reliable evidence have led to miscarriages of justice. The only samples that are currently held are from persons who have been arrested, whether or not charged or convicted also voluntary samples (e.g. to be eliminated as a suspect in a criminal investigation and this sample is permanently stored, irrevocable). Unfortunately this is putting the "innocent on a par with guilty". [10] Therefore he as do I believe it would actually be fairer if everyone was recorded on the database, as then everyone would be treated equally, part of our human rights [6]. The original aim of the DNA database was to be able to match DNA at a crime scene with a suspect. But now thousands of people are on the database, whether they have been convicted or not, making them automatic suspects for any future crime this seems a step to far. Undermining the principle in the U.K that we are innocent until proven guilty, with the database those that have been put on it are actually presumed guilty until proven innocent. The DNA database must be reviewed further with public opinion included, as the system clearly has negative aspects which much be looked at, to see whether the database really is worth will for society. ...read more.

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