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Serious Problems with DNA Fingerprinting

Serious Problems with DNA Fingerprinting

Is there any piece of physical evidence so foolproof it could be used to prove or disprove anyone’s case in a trial? Many people believe the answer to this question is DNA. In theory, this argument is true, but many believe certain factors can lead to inconsistent data gathered from DNA. There are many differing opinions on how DNA should be used, or if it should be used at all.

Many people are uninformed about what DNA actually is or how it is used in criminal trials. DNA is the generic term for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is a molecule found throughout the entire body that determines all inherited characteristics (Forensic Testing Division, 1998). Someone receives half of his or her genetic makeup from each biological parent, making each person’s genetic makeup unique, except for identical twins.

Since the genetic makeup of each individual is entirely different from another, it is believed that DNA can be used to prove exactly who was at a crime scene and who was not. The process to determine whose DNA has been gathered at a crime scene is known as DNA fingerprinting. In actuality, only 2% of DNA are genes; the rest is called “junk DNA” which biological purpose is unknown (Verrengia, 1997). Junk DNA is what is mainly used in DNA fingerprinting.

DNA can be found in many different substances including hair, saliva, blood, and other fluids or tissues. That junk DNA found in these substances are tested in different ways including Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism and Polymerase Chain Reaction. These tests are usually referred as the RFLP and PCR tests, respectively.

In these tests, DNA is exposed to enzymes which cause the strands t…

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…ensic/index.htm, December 1, 1998.

Hunter, M. (1998). Laying the babes in the woods’ to rest. [CD-ROM, InfoTrac].

Johnson Publishing Company Inc. (1996). Four Chicago men wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years released; movie deal in the works. [CD-ROM, InfoTrac].

Lampton, C. (1991). DNA fingerprinting. New York: Franklin Watts.

Messina, Lawrence. Six paid 40 years because of Zain. [Online] Available, December 3, 1998.

UPI Colorado Second News Briefs. [Online] Available…d=FB19981204700000029

Genetic Engineering: The Controversy of Genetic Screening

The Controversy of Genetic Screening

Craig Ventor of Celera Genomics, Rockville, MD, and Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health and Wellcome Trust, London, England, simultaneously presented the sequence of human DNA in June of 2000, accomplishing the first major endeavor of the Human Genome Project (HGP) (Ridley 2). As scientists link human characteristics to genes-segments of DNA found on one or more of the 23 human chromosomes-prospects for genetic engineering will increase dramatically. One relatively simple but powerful application of the HGP is genetic screening. By abstracting and analyzing DNA from embryos, fetuses, children or adults, one can detect the presence or absence of specific genes. While some people think of genetic screening as a great scientific and medical advancement, others see it as a frightening and dangerous enterprise. With careful regulation, I believe genetic screening can affect individuals in a beneficial manner.

Pre-natal genetic screening is currently used in high-risk pregnancies for detection of diseases such as Down Syndrome and Huntington’s chorea (Ridley 55, 98). As scientists determine the genes for additional genetic conditions, screening of embryos will provide more information to potential parents before their fetus is fully developed. If a screened fetus were found to carry genes for a particular disease or disability, its parents might selectively abort it. Many individuals who believe in pro-choice abortion laws advocate pre-natal screening for genetic diseases because the abortion of fetuses with undesirable traits may decrease the number of unwanted children. Those against abortion strongly oppose pre-natal screening, predicting an increase in abor…

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…guidelines could eliminate many of these destructive effects. Pre-natal screening should only test for ‘abortion-worthy’ diseases determined by a national or international bioethics committee. Children and adults should be screened for particular diseases or conditions when/if family medical histories or physical examinations find reason to do so. With such policies, I believe that genetic screening will beneficially revolutionize obstetric and preventative medicine.

Works Cited

Gibbs, Nancy and Michael Duffy. “We Must Proceed With Great Care.” Time.

Hubbard, Ruth and Elijah Wald. Exploring the Gene Myth. Boston: Beacon Press.

Lemonick, Michael P. “Smart Genes?” Time 13 Sept. 1999.

Ridley, Matt. Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. Perennial.

Snell, Marilyn B. “Tempest in a Pill Box.” Sierra 85 (2000): 18-19.

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