Sat, 17 Oct 2009

Some recent DNA-related news

The UK Border Agency announced its Human Provenance Project 'to help identify a person’s true country of origin' from their DNA. This racist scheme, confusing ethnicity and nationality, has been rubbished by scientists finding it 'flawed', 'naive' and 'horrifying'. The UKBA appeared to have second thoughts but is still going ahead with it.

In a BBC interview, Professor Gloria Laycock, the director of the Jill Dando Institute, distanced herself from the research included in the Home Office consultation: '[The Home Office] policy should be based on proper analysis and evidence and we did our best to try and produce some in a terribly tiny timeframe, using data we were not given direct access to. That was probably a mistake with hindsight, we should have just said "you might as well just stick your finger in the air and think of a number".'

The first 'DNA clinic' organised by Liberty with Diane Abbott MP happened at the end of September. Anna Fairclough recounts how it went. She found 'that many people are profoundly disturbed by the government's determination to retain their DNA when they have not been convicted of a crime. The demand was such that we could probably fill DNA clinics around the country if we had sufficient resources to staff them.' The racial bias of the NDNAD was reflected in the attendance, 'it was no surprise that we had a clinic full of young black men and boys, smart in their school blazers and flanked by worried parents'.

The United Arab Emirates intend to add the DNA profiles of all UAE residents to its DNA database. Dr Ahmed al Marzooqi, the director of the UAE National DNA Database, said 'The aim is to eventually have a profile of the entire population. Our goal is to sample one million per year, which could take as long as 10 years if you factor in the population growth.'

Techno utopians with a Jesus phone and no concern for privacy can waste their money on an iPhone wallpaper of their DNA profile. Those with an Android phone, can look forward to an application to assess products, when shopping, for compatibility with their genome.

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