DNA testing was initially introduced into the criminal justice system on a case by case basis as a method of developing supplemental evidence to be used in convicting those guilty of committing violent felonies. Over just a short time, however, the balance between the legitimate needs of law enforcement and individual rights has been lost. In the last fifteen years forensic DNA collection and the resulting databases have changed dramatically, with DNA collection by law enforcement around the globe now routinely being used for a multiplicity of purposes that pose significant privacy and civil rights concerns to every citizen with little public debate and few safeguards to protect against possible adverse effects.
The new issue of GeneWatch magazine, now available online, digs deep into this important issue with articles from experts and activists highlighting these concerns in their own countries, from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Portugal to India and China. Activists in Pakistan wrote an article about the forensic DNA database planned in their country, and we could not publish their names out of concern for their safety. Despite all of the problems, the lesson that comes out of these pages is not that forensic DNA technology is an inherently “bad” thing; in fact, it can be a very good thing. For instance, as Innocence Project co-founder Peter Neufeld points out in an exclusive GeneWatch interview, DNA evidence is a powerful tool for exonerating the wrongly convicted; and used responsibly and competently, forensic DNA can be a highly effective crime solving tool.
The issue also includes an exclusive interview with ACLU attorney Sandra Park on developments in the Myriad gene patent case and the latest updates on everything from genetic nondiscrimination legislation in California to farmer protests against genetically modified seeds in India.
Try GeneWatch for free online now at www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org.
It is hard to keep up with the rush of information and opinion coming out as the result of the rapid growth in genetic research and technology today. Even without our fully realizing it, genetic technology is entering almost every area of our lives; from the genetically modified foods that we eat, to the biodiversity of our eco-system, from human health and reproductive technologies to the operation of the criminal justice system. The public needs information from a trusted source. For over 25 years GeneWatch, CRG’s award-winning magazine, has filled this critical role. GeneWatch covers a broad spectrum of domestic and international issues, from genetically engineered foods to biological weapons, genetic privacy and discrimination, reproductive technologies, and human cloning. GeneWatch features articles by international experts in the field, interviews of critical figures, profiles of every day individuals impacted by developments in biotechnology and reviews of books and movies.
GeneWatch is available by subscription for delivery or for free online. Please visit the CRG website for more information at www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org
Since 1983, the Council for Responsible Genetics has represented the public interest and fostered public debate about the social, ethical and environmental implications of genetic technologies. CRG is a leader in the movement to steer biotechnology toward the advancement of public health, environmental protection, equal justice, and respect for human rights.