Posts Tagged ‘DNA Databank’

DNA database ‘is causing suicides’, MPs are warned

Daily Mail | Feb 4, 2010

By Colin Fernandez

Keeping profiles of the innocent on the DNA database causes immense distress and has even led to suicide, the pioneer of fingerprinting technology warned MPs yesterday.

Sir Alec Jeffreys, who invented the use of DNA to fight crime, said storing these records could lead to ‘an unfair presumption of guilt’.

The DNA database for England and Wales holds over five million profiles with around one million having no criminal conviction.

Sir Alec said he had been frequently contacted by innocent people on the database to say how distressed they were and he called for their records to be removed immediately.

He told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committe he had been frequently contacted by innocent people on the database to say how distressed they were.

In July 2008 Robert Chong, 41, committed suicide because of the ‘shame’ of being put on the database after he was falsely accused of exposing himself to a woman, he said.

A cursory check of CCTV tapes would have demonstrated his innocence. His only interaction with the woman had been when she swore at him on the station concourse.

Mr Chong, 41, later became withdrawn and told his mother: ‘I’m on the criminal database now, I have got a record,’ before killing himself in July 2008.

Sir Alec said: ‘I want the balance to be struck. I have not heard anything about the rights of the innocent victim, and the distress at being branded a criminal.

‘Innocent people on the database are being used inefficiently to solve future crimes – and that goes against their civil rights.

‘If you took one million profiles off the database and replaced them with one million randomly selected profiles, would detections rise?’

Sir Alec also criticised placing DNA taken from children on the database as ‘heavy-handed and disproportionate’.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that holding the profiles of innocent people indefinitely was disproportionate and a breach of privacy rights.

The Government proposes to hold innocent profiles for six years, but Sir Alec believes this is excessive.

He said: ‘I want to get rid of the DNA of innocent people [from the database] it is as simple as that.’

The DNA database had developed ‘sinister mission creep’ which “had taken it away from being a crime fighting tool to one that threatens to undermine public confidence’ he said since it was set up.

The police can take a DNA sample from anyone arrested for a recordable offence.

Last month Home Office minister Alan Campbell revealed that just 377 profiles were deleted in 2009 from the national DNA database after appeals to police chiefs.

Advertisements

Anne Brown worries that someone could gain access to the DNA sample from her daughter Isabel with Isabel’s name attached

CNN | Feb 4, 2010

By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent

(CNN) — When Annie Brown’s daughter, Isabel, was a month old, her pediatrician asked Brown and her husband to sit down because he had some bad news to tell them: Isabel carried a gene that put her at risk for cystic fibrosis.

While grateful to have the information — Isabel received further testing and she doesn’t have the disease — the Mankato, Minnesota, couple wondered how the doctor knew about Isabel’s genes in the first place. After all, they’d never consented to genetic testing.

It’s simple, the pediatrician answered: Newborn babies in the United States are routinely screened for a panel of genetic diseases. Since the testing is mandated by the government, it’s often done without the parents’ consent, according to Brad Therrell, director of the National Newborn Screening & Genetics Resource Center.

In many states, such as Florida, where Isabel was born, babies’ DNA is stored indefinitely, according to the resource center.

Many parents don’t realize their baby’s DNA is being stored in a government lab, but sometimes when they find out, as the Browns did, they take action. Parents in Texas, and Minnesota have filed lawsuits, and these parents’ concerns are sparking a new debate about whether it’s appropriate for a baby’s genetic blueprint to be in the government’s possession.

“We were appalled when we found out,” says Brown, who’s a registered nurse. “Why do they need to store my baby’s DNA indefinitely? Something on there could affect her ability to get a job later on, or get health insurance.”

According to the state of Minnesota’s Web site, samples are kept so that tests can be repeated, if necessary, and in case the DNA is ever need to help parents identify a missing or deceased child. The samples are also used for medical research.
Video: Government has your baby’s DNA

Art Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, says he understands why states don’t first ask permission to screen babies for genetic diseases. “It’s paternalistic, but the state has an overriding interest in protecting these babies,” he says.

However, he added that storage of DNA for long periods of time is a different matter.

“I don’t see any reason to do that kind of storage,” Caplan says. “If it’s anonymous, then I don’t care. I don’t have an issue with that. But if you keep names attached to those samples, that makes me nervous.”

DNA given to outside researchers

Genetic testing for newborns started in the 1960s with testing for diseases and conditions that, if undetected, could kill a child or cause severe problems, such as mental retardation. Since then, the screening has helped save countless newborns.

Over the years, many other tests were added to the list. Now, states mandate that newborns be tested for anywhere between 28 and 54 different conditions, and the DNA samples are stored in state labs for anywhere from three months to indefinitely, depending on the state. (To find out how long your baby’s DNA is stored, see this state-by-state list.)

Brad Therrell, who runs the federally funded genetic resource consortium, says parents don’t need to worry about the privacy of their babies’ DNA.

“The states have in place very rigid controls on those specimens,” Therrell says. “If my children’s DNA were in one of these state labs, I wouldn’t be worried a bit.”

The specimens don’t always stay in the state labs. They’re often given to outside researchers — sometimes with the baby’s name attached.

According to a study done by the state of Minnesota, more than 20 scientific papers have been published in the United States since 2000 using newborn blood samples.

The researchers do not have to have parental consent to obtain samples as long as the baby’s name is not attached, according to Amy Gaviglio, one of the authors of the Minnesota report. However, she says it’s her understanding that if a researcher wants a sample with a baby’s name attached, consent first must be obtained from the parents.

Scientists have heralded this enormous collection of DNA samples as a “gold mine” for doing research, according to Gaviglio.

“This sample population would be virtually impossible to get otherwise,” says Gaviglio, a genetic counselor for the Minnesota Department of Health. “Researchers go through a very stringent process to obtain the samples. States certainly don’t provide samples to just anyone.”

Brown says that even with these assurances, she still worries whether someone could gain access to her baby’s DNA sample with Isabel’s name attached.

“I know the government says my baby’s data will be kept private, but I’m not so sure. I feel like my trust has been taken,” she says.

Parents don’t give consent to screening

Brown says she first lost trust when she learned that Isabel had received genetic testing in the first place without consent from her or her husband.

“I don’t have a problem with the testing, but I wish they’d asked us first,” she says.

Since health insurance paid for Isabel’s genetic screening, her positive test for a cystic fibrosis gene is now on the record with her insurance company, and the Browns are concerned this could hurt her in the future.

“It’s really a black mark against her, and there’s nothing we can do to get it off there,” Brown says. “And let’s say in the future they can test for a gene for schizophrenia or manic-depression and your baby tests positive — that would be on there, too.”

Brown says if the hospital had first asked her permission to test Isabel, now 10 months old, she might have chosen to pay for it out of pocket so the results wouldn’t be known to the insurance company.

Caplan says taking DNA samples without asking permission and then storing them “veers from the norm.”

“In the military, for instance, they take and store DNA samples, but they tell you they’re doing it, and you can choose not to join if you don’t like it,” he says.

What can parents do

In some states, including Minnesota and Texas, the states are required to destroy a baby’s DNA sample if a parent requests it. Parents who want their baby’s DNA destroyed are asked to fill out this form in Minnesota and this form in Texas.

Parents in other states have less recourse, says Therrell, who runs the genetic testing group. “You’d probably have to write a letter to the state saying, ‘Please destroy my sample,’” he says.

He adds, however, that it’s not clear whether a state would necessarily obey your wishes. “I suspect it would be very difficult to get those states to destroy your baby’s sample,” he says.

NYTimes:

A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property.

United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the 152-page decision, which invalidated seven patents related to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations have been associated with cancer.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York joined with individual patients and medical organizations to challenge the patents last May: they argued that genes, products of nature, fall outside of the realm of things that can be patented. The patents, they argued, stifle research and innovation and limit testing options.

Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patents with the University of Utah Research Foundation, asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that the work of isolating the DNA from the body transforms it and makes it patentable. Such patents, it said, have been granted for decades; the Supreme Court upheld patents on living organisms in 1980. In fact, many in the patent field had predicted the courts would throw out the suit.

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were “improperly granted” because they involved a “law of nature.” He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”

The case could have far-reaching implications. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and multibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant.

“If a decision like this were upheld, it would have a pretty significant impact on the future of medicine,” said Kenneth Chahine, a visiting law professor at the University of Utah who filed an amicus brief on the side of Myriad. He said that medicine was becoming more personalized, with genetic tests used not only to diagnose diseases but to determine which medicine was best for which patient.

Mr. Chahine, who once ran a biotechnology company, said the decision could also make it harder for young companies to raise money from investors. “The industry is going to have to get more creative about how to retain exclusivity and attract capital in the face of potentially weaker patent protection,” he said.

Edward Reines, a patent lawyer who represents biotechnology firms but was not involved in the case, said loss of patent protection could diminish the incentives for genetic research.

“The genetic tools to solve the major health problems of our time have not been found yet,” said Mr. Reines, who is with the Silicon Valley office of the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “These are the discoveries we want to motivate by providing incentives to all the researchers out there.”

The lawsuit also challenged the patents on First Amendment grounds, but Judge Sweet ruled that because the issues in the case could be decided within patent law, the constitutional question need not be decided.

The FBI plans to migrate from its IAFIS fingerprint database to a new biometrics system that will include DNA records, 3-D facial imaging, palm prints and voice scans.

Read On

More:

FBI Doing Facial Recognition Scans on DMV Photo Records

Facial recognition research advances

Global Biometrics:

Waco Siege “Enforcer” To Rule Over Global Police Force

(NaturalNews) In April of 2008, President Bush signed into law S.1858 which allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. This was to be implemented within 6 months meaning that this collection is now being carried out. Congressman Ron Paul states that this bill is the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database.

S.1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is justified as a “national contingency plan” in that it represents preparation for any sort of public health emergency. The bill states that the federal government should “continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening” and “maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening… ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly”. Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. Read the full bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bil…

Read On

Science Daily (snippet):

Scientists at the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester – where the revolutionary technique of genetic fingerprinting was invented by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys — are developing techniques which may one day allow police to work out someone’s surname from the DNA alone.

Ignorance Is Futile:

Any good social engineer knows that to ensure the success of questionable new agendas it’s vital to target children for systematic desensitization. You see this indoctrination in Global Warming alarmism, militaristic Christian Zionism (must see), UN “One World” government school campaigns, Israeli Zionist imperialism (see photo below), Islamic terrorism, cameras in school bathrooms, Obama’s “National Security Force”, Google’s mobile-device GPS tracking, and Homeland Security partnering with Sesame Street, to name a handful.

23andMe is the pet project of Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s wife, Anne Wojcicki. It’s geared as a personal genomic service, and it’s web home is built as a social networking site.

One interesting thing in the 23andMe children indoctrination context is a view of their lobby at their Mountain View headquarters. In it is a sort of DNA shrine that has a “Dino” doll, and amongst other things a childrens DNA mad science laboratory playset. When I first seen it in the video I thought it was part of their promotion line, but it turns out to be made by the Discovery Store. But none-the-less we can still see the evidence of their operation being in-part geared towards children, and you can bet that it is no accident considering Google is at the forefront in neuromarketing and behavioral marketing and so on.

But the bigger story is 23andMe’s participation in their local area, where in May they targeted the Girl Scouts’ Golden Gate Bridging which had more than 7,000 girls from eight states in attendance. They didn’t just do the walk with them, but they also had a booth set up where they encouraged the kids to ““translate” their names into the genetic code and then use colored beads to represent their new “DNA aliases” on a zipper pull (click here for instructions). We had a great time meeting the girls and talking to them about DNA. They seemed to enjoy it too – as one girl assembled her zipper pull she exclaimed, “I never thought today would be so fun!”

Let’s be serious: Who even thinks up something like a “zipper pull” for any reason other than to target children? At least many parents might not need be too concerned unless 23andMe offices start popping up in every city with staff members to march out into their communities.

So some may not see much harm in any of this, but please consider that this is an outgrowth of Google, whose agenda is to “gather” and “understand” “all of the worlds information”, including having virtually every human beings DNA code publicly searchable on Google. Like too many of Google’s agendas, this agenda coincides too conveniently with the Federal governments ambitions for a broad national DNA database (See here for links on both Google and the Feds). Reasons for such may include tracking purposes and advanced genetic behavioral analysis.

In light of 23andMe, the agenda feels right at home considering their love for mad scientist Craig Venter. Note that Craig is one of the prime subjects on my Google + Federal DNA Databank page. Craig is quite a character. He specializes in genomics and synthetic biology (creating entirely new synthetic lifeforms), and to the question about ‘playing God’ he says: “We’re not playing”, he overemphasizes, “we’re not playing”. I guess Craig is quite the celebrity as my new book, “Cracking the Genome”, explains that he was deeply responsible for the completion of the Genome Project some 5 years ahead of schedule.

He now crusades for out and open private DNA searchable on Google. Considering that, it couldn’t be more ironic that Sergey Brin recently finished having his genome studied via 23andMe and he discovered that he’s genetically predisposed to developing Parkinson’s Disease.

They expect us all to get used to the idea of knowing our genetic makeups, but how many of us are multi-billionaires who can afford to not drive ourselves mad in the prospect that we might later develop whatever. In “Cracking the Genome”, Francis Collins is quoted as saying: “All of us probably carry four or five really fouled up genes and another couple of dozen that are not so great and place us at at some risk for something”.

So what these people are proposing is that we should display perhaps our most intimate privacy data on Google, and then possibly learn that we have genetic markers for things beyond our means which the knowledge of alone could create psychological scenarios that lead to the development of such when it might not have happened anyways. Unless the cure exists for virtually all known diseases you can count me out for sure.

SEE ALSO:
*Mobile Google Android to condition people to embrace constant GPS tracking