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Archive for October, 2007 Monthly Archives

I just came across an article distributed by the New Zealand Herald announcing the above topic. This brought my thinking to the use of DNA Profiling in general.

Dog Tags give way to DNA – 5:00AM Thursday November 01, 2007

CANBERRA – The DNA of all serving defence force personnel will from next year be stored to help identification of remains.

The Australian Defence Force decision follows a review of operating procedures and operational experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. Traditionally, soldiers have been identified by dog tags – discs inscribed with name, service number and religion – worn around the neck.

Although it sounds like a grim, possibly invasive, practice, using DNA in place of dog tags to identify the remains of soldiers is, in fact, very wise. Many different issues can arise with tags worn around the neck: they can be stolen, lost, destroyed, or held on to by another solider, to name a few.

The practice of DNA Profiling and Banking is elected by many companies that send employees or contractors to war zones. A sample of that person’s DNA is collected in the case of emergency. Should there be an incident, both the company and the family can have peace of mind. Quickly. So, why not utilize the same technology for soldiers who are on the front lines?

The same goes for cases involving human remains in public cases, such as in the search for a missing or abducted child, family members (parents, siblings or children) have to give a personal sample to be matched to remains found in the accident or murder. The amount of time between the incident/crime scene collection, family collection and laboratory screening for a match can be agonizing. Especially when using State and County Forensics labs which are notorious with delayed specimen processing. All of these issues, and more, have led some protective parents to have profiles performed on their children, “just in case”.

As a matter of fact, our company, DNA Identifiers, is arranging a collection at this very moment with a client who is traveling overseas in the coming year. The client is an American Soldier currently serving in the war and he has requested a Child ID Kit and DNA Profile… “just in case”. Understandably, he, of all people, has his concerns about his child’s safety and had decided to err on the side of caution.

Creating a U.S. database with solider DNA Profiles would help cut through the waiting and possible confusion with John Does’ and missing and destroyed dog tags. At the very least, the profiles could work in conjunction with the tags, not in place of. And it is conceivable that, not accounting for a backlog of cases, a lab could have the profile matched in a 24 hour period.

So why not use this technology the same as the Australians? Based on the number of times we have asked out Congress for an increase in funds and our militaries’ struggle to keep the troops properly armored, funding for this kind of project appears to be long way down the road.

For now, my advice to any soldier or family who feels the need to have peace of mind (like our client with daughter mentioned above) – don’t wait for the government to provide this service, have a private DNA Profile performed. I know it’s a relative matter, but they are not outlandishly expensive. If you ask, who knows, you might even get a discount!

For more information about DNA Profiling and Banking visit DNA Banking

(Please note that the above views of the author, and of DNA Identifiers, do not intend to lend support to, nor oppose, the War on Terror.)

Posted October 22, 2007, in the online edition of “The Hindu”, India’s National Newspaper:

Scientists say Neanderthals did speak

London: They may be primitive brutes but the Neanderthals, who inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia, probably have had the gift of the gab.

DNA Revelations
Scientists in Europe have investigated DNA from Neanderthal bones, collected from a cave in northern Spain, and discovered that the humanity’s closest extinct relatives had a “language gene” found in modern humans, The Daily Telegraph reported here on Sunday.

Language Gene
“The presence of the language gene would change the way people view Neanderthals. It is not a compliment to be called a Neanderthal, but we are finding that the Neanderthal DNA looks much more like contemporary humans than chimps.

“The human variations of this gene involved in the use of language are not found in apes and for a long time, there has been speculation Neanderthals would have a different gene and so a different linguistic ability.

Lots of Views
“By looking at their DNA, we have found that from the point of view of this gene, there is no reason they would not have spoken like we do. It is a very contentious area with a lot of different views,” lead researcher Professor Svante Paabo was quoted as saying.

Previous Work
In fact, the findings of Professor Paabo and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, support previous work that attempted to model the Neanderthals throat and larynx from their remains.

While some scientists had earlier insisted they would have spoken, others had dismissed the idea. — PTI

The F.B.I. has been training police officers in other countries in Forensic Science.

According to an October 22, 2007 article on Bernama dot-com, The Malaysian National New Agency, beyond general forensics, courses in forensics crime scene management were also offered to Kuala Lumpurian and other Malaysian, police officers.

All of this training has been in anticipation of the passing of a draft bill…

“…aimed at establishing a DNA database has been formulated and will be submitted to the Attorney-General’s Department for approval.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said that once the green light was given, it would be tabled in the Dewan Rakat.

(The Dewan Rakat, which literally means “people’s hall”, is the House of Representatives in Parliament of Malaysia. – Wikipedia)

The database would enable all DNA samples to be stored and used to assist investigations or in court proceedings, he said when responding to Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (BN-Santubong).

Fu also said that foreigners accounted for only two per cent of crimes committed in the country.

‘But for violent crimes like murder and armed robbery, they accounted for between 16 and 18 per cent of the cases,’ he said. “

22 October 2007PARIS (AFP) – Thousands of people took to the streets across France Saturday to protest against a bill going through parliament that would bring in DNA testing for foreigners wishing to join their families here.

Organisers said some 3,000 people attended a march through Paris as part of a “national day of solidarity with foreigners”. Police put the figure at 1,500.

The protests, organised by immigration campaigners, leftist groups and rights organisations, drew between 500 and 1,000 people in Bordeaux and several hundred each in Marseille, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Rennes and Dijon.

Among those marching in Paris was Arlette Laguiller, spokeswoman for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who denounced the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy for “pandering to the far-right” with the immigration law.

Demonstrators held banners calling for illegal immigrants to have their status formalised and urging an end to deportations and to “genetic filing”.

Many employed immigrants were among the crowd. Ahmed, a 37-year-old removal man, complained that “we have been paying our taxes for years and we should be regarded by the government as other workers are”.

The immigration bill, which is expected to approved in parliament this week, has met fierce opposition from left-wing critics but also some members of the ruling right, as well as religious leaders and campaigning groups.

Supporters say the measure would make it possible for would-be immigrants to speed up the application process by proving their kinship to family members in France. They point out that 12 other EU countries carry out similar tests.

But opponents say the bill would set a dangerous precedent by making genetic affiliation a criterion for citizenship.

The government was forced to make a series of concessions to the proposed law to win over critics, including introducing the DNA tests only in countries where civil status documents proving kinship are often counterfeited.

AFP

Subject: French news

THE French Parliament yesterday adopted an immigration Bill that has sparked angry debate for introducing DNA testing of foreigners who want to join relatives in France.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has faced street protests and opposition even within his own camp over the Bill, which imposes new conditions for migrants to be reunited with their families.They include possible DNA tests to prove kinship.

The opposition Socialists voted unanimously against the Bill, saying it sets a dangerous precedent by resorting to genetics to determine who gets a place in France, instead of human rights principles.

However Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux defended the Bill before the National Assembly, saying it had been “caricatured” and had fallen victim to “political tactics” instead of “disagreements on principle”.

Mr Hortefeux said 12 European countries already allowed DNA testing of immigration applicants.

France’s Socialist and Communist parties reaffirmed they would ask the Constitutional Council, the country’s highest legal authority, to strike down the Bill.

American molecular biologist and DNA authority, James Watson, winner of the 1962 Nobel prize for his description of the double-helix structure of DNA, has apologized for racially insensitive comments and canceled his book tour in Britain.

So what did he say that has everyone’s panties in a bunch? In an interview published in the Oct. 14 edition of Britain’s Sunday Times, Watson was quoted as saying he was…

“inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa. “All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.”

Oh no he didn’t! Yes, sadly, he actually did!

Watson said he was sorry for the comments in an appearance at the Royal Society in London.

“I am mortified about what has happened,” he told a group of scientists and journalists. “I can certainly understand why people, reading those words, have reacted in the ways they have.

“To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologize unreservedly.

“That is not what I meant. More importantly, from my point of view, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”

Hopefully his apology isn’t just lip service and an attempt to cover himself. If not, lets hope he’ll use that brilliant mind to do more research… and get a clue. Bill Clinton would be proud.

James Watson and Bill Clinton

Mumbai Children

The Times of India reports that paternity testing in India’s major cities is on the rise.

MUMBAI: It has been one of the original sins etched in the ancient testaments, but its practitioners are now feeling the heat, thanks to new age technology. Increasingly, Mumbai-based married couples who have had serious doubts about the child’s parentage are resorting to DNA finger-printing tests to establish the identity of the parent.

The state-run Forensic Science Lab at Kalina has so far received 40 blood samples from couples who are at war over the parentage of their infants. “We have been receiving these samples from police stations where criminal cases of harassment have been filed and also from family courts where there are ongoing legal disputes about the parentage,” FSL director Rukmini Krishnamurthy told TOI.

Mazagaon resident Praveen Salian is one of the many parents who went for the DNA test recently as he doubted that his two-year-old baby looked like anyone in his family. A radio officer on a merchant vessel, he had in fact separated from his wife a year ago, and filed a divorce plea in the family court.

When the case came up for hearing, the court directed the police to verify this contention by testing the DNA blood samples of the infant and the father. Salian’s plea was found to be true as the infant’s samples did not match with his own and the divorce was granted.

Legal experts fighting paternity suits say there has been an increase in the number of such cases — a by-product of the increasing marital disharmony amongst urban nuclear families. “The DNA test is recognised under the Indian Evidence Act, although it is not conclusive proof and courts still look at supporting evidence if the case is related to harassment and sexual abuse,” counsel Uday Warunjakar said.

Experts say there are two types of paternity suits filed where the DNA fingerprinting test are used. In the first case, a dispute arises over a property and there are many legal heirs claiming their right. “The legal heirs can be found out by testing the blood samples,” Warunjakar said. In the second type of case, which involves couples who doubt their spouse’s fidelity, the DNA tests are done after a harassment case or a divorce plea is filed by one of the partners.

This disturbing urban social trend has gained huge popularity in the west. According to the American association of blood banks, 30% of 3.54 lakh men who took paternity tests in 2003 were not biological fathers of the tested child.

But psychiatrists have a word of caution. “One out of every two case arises due to suspicion and an inherent martial discord between the family. If couples have doubts, then it is good that they conduct a DNA test. But the problems usually does not stop here,” said Harish Shetty, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist.

He says that couples should undergo proper screening and counselling before they undertake the DNA test. “There are other reasons for marital disharmony and they just find this as an excuse for separation. Even if the DNA tests reveal that the child is their own, things may not be the same again if ‘other’ reasons for disharmony have not been resolved,” Shetty said.

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