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News and insights in the world of DNA and genetics for paternity, immigration and forensics

Archive for June, 2011 Monthly Archives

The newest in your child’s athletic careers might just be a genetic test to see what sports they may be suited for. The parent simply swabs the inside of the child’s mouth and sends the cotton swab off to the company for analysis. The tests are reported to be able to:

• Give coaches and parents early information about their child’s predisposition for success in team or individual sports.
• Can be used to help developing a personalized training and conditioning program necessary for athletic and sport development.

The real question is are these claims fact or fiction? What makes an athlete?  When evaluating athletes, amateurs or professional, you need to look at combination of physical, mental and social attributes. Unfortunately these test can cause children or their parents to push for extreme sports regiments with out looking at the mental and physical effects on the child.

Some of the long term effects are due to life-long injuries to areas like back, knee and hip which are often the end result of extreme forms of exercise or adult obesity and the probability of heart disease which can be an unfortunate outcome of the misguided concept of “bulking up.” Rapid weight gain at any age is associated with dramatic increases in abdominal fat, which is linked to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

We continue to believe that now we have discovered the human genome sequence we are able understand how the human body works, and we would be even crazier to think that knowing about a few genes can let us shape the future of a child for any reason not just for sports.

By Briana R.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Arnold Schwarzenegger never asked for a DNA test to prove he was the father of Mildred Baena’s child.  In addition, Mildred Baena has yet to establish paternity which typically requires a DNA test.

Sources state that Baena’s husband was out of the country when the child was conceived and that he did not return until shortly before the baby was born.  In addition it is said that the child bears a striking resemblance to Schwarzenegger and to Schwarzenegger’s youngest son Christopher.

According to the American Association of Blood Banks an agency that also monitors DNA Paternity Testing, 3.5 out of 10 Paternity Test comes back as a negative.

Is Arnold Schwarzenegger safe to assume Mildred Baena’s child is his with out a DNA Test? Appearances can be deceiving especially when it comes to a persons DNA. Do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger should insist on a DNA test?

 

By Briana R.

Clonaid™ a company that claims to be a provider of reproductive human cloning services announced that a baby born on December 26th, 2002 was the first cloned baby. The baby, called Eve, is reported to be a clone of her mother. The company provided no pictures of the baby and no names of the parents were offered, not even a vague location of their whereabouts. By 2004 Clonaid had claimed the successful birth of 13 health cloned babies.

Cloning creates a new individual using only one person’s DNA. The process is technically difficult but conceptually simple. Scientists remove the genetic material from an unfertilized egg, then introduce new DNA from a cell of the animal to be cloned. Under the proper conditions, the egg begins dividing into new cells according to the instructions in the introduced DNA.

Cloning experts have said they need to see DNA evidence done by independent experts before they believe Clonaid’s claims. As of yet this has not happened.  In 2003, it appeared that the world might get the evidence of cloning when freelance TV journalist and former ABC-TV science editor Michael Guillen,  said he had chosen an expert who will draw DNA samples from the Eve and her mother. Guillen, said he had no links to Clonaid and was not being paid for his work. He had picked, two “world-class, independent DNA testing labs,” where other experts will look for a match between the samples. Unfortunately the samples and the testing never appeared.

At this point human cloning is still an unfounded claim and a hot topic of debate. Clonaid’s announcement created a flood of questions: ethical, medical, political, religious — some which belonged solely to the field of science fiction up to this point it appears. Their announcement also created a flurry of legislation and/or guidelines to ban human cloning have been introduced or passed in dozens of nations, including the United States. While many countries, including Britain, Israel, Japan and Germany, already have banned human cloning.

Amanda Knox is an American woman convicted for the December 2009 murder of a British student studying in Italy. Italian officials claimed that Amanda Knox murdered Meredith Kercher in a drug-fueled sex game that turned violent. Amanda Knox has repeatedly protested her innocence and is appealing the sentence. Meredith Kercher was found in November of 2007 in her room in the cottage she shared with Knox.

Curt Knox, the father of Amanda Knox, told reporters on May 18th that DNA experts for the his daughter’s appeal were missing key information that was being held by Italian police. When speaking with the AFP Curt stated, “The independent experts have made requests for specific information from the forensic police related to the DNA testing of the knife in particular… this data is not being provided.”

According to Amanda Knox’s father, the independent experts appointed to review key forensic evidence had not been given access to all the evidence. He stated in an email that, ”They have requested the “row data” which in DNA testing is a vital part of the process of testing. I’m told that this data is not being provided and this is the reason for the independent experts to request an extension to filing their final report.”

In the process of appealing Knox’s case, fresh DNA tests were ordered on the presumed murder weapon and a bra clip found at the scene. The DNA team had 90 days to review the evidence but are likely to use the May 21st hearing to request additional time to submit their final report.

Curt Knox said that, “Amanda is not afraid of the truth.” He added, ”it will be interesting to understand why the forensic police are not willing to provide the independent experts the information they feel is necessary in order to provide a fully reviewed final report.”

According to Curt Knox after visiting Amanda in prison, “She is holding up as well as you would expect for a person who has been in prison now for three-and-a-half years for a crime she didn’t commit and still has faith in the Italian Justice system to seek the truth in her appeals trial.”

I thought that the “Is It Local?” comedic skit on the television show, Portlandia, took local dining to a new extreme.  However,  I recently came across an article about consumers who are willing to pay for a DNA test to confirm the source of their meet. This demand has pushed DNA tested, traceable, meat onto restaurant menus.

DNA-traceable meat is not a new technology, as it has been used in Europe and other countries for decades, but has been slow to catch on in America. This is beginning to change  according to industry experts. These experts say that DNA-traceable meat can pay off in multiple ways, including boosting consumer confidence, upping the value of a dinner, and cutting the time needed to track recalled meats.

Tracy Tonning, executive chef at Blackstone restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa thinks that “People want to know where their food is coming from and this gives you a perfect avenue for you to go ahead and find out. You can trace it back to where it came from, where it was raised… It’s a security factor for the guest, as well as the chef.” Blackstone resturant is one of more than 11,000 locations being supplied with DNA-traceable beef by Richmond-based food distributor Performance Food Group. Performance Food Group is able to do DNA tracing because it is using smaller suppliers dedicated to producing meat for the company.

Performance Food Group tested their products in some of the steakhouses it supplies, as well as surveying outside other restaurants. These surveys and tests showed consumers were willing to pay $2 or $3 more for the same cut meat if various “pleasers” were added — a higher quality of meat, traceability, as well as how the animals were treated and fed. This value only came if the customer knew about it.

Phil Lempert, a food marketing expert says that DNA-traceable meat is ”really good marketing. The awareness in general is, in my opinion, at the highest level it’s ever been — from a health stand point, from a food safety standpoint. We really need to rebuild confidence in our food and technologies like this help that.”

The process work because workers take DNA samples at processing point as well as other places along the supply chain. The samples are gathered to determine the specific animals each product came from. In addition information kept by farmers and others involved in the raising and processing of the animals can be added to give a more complete history.

In addition to rebuilding confidence in our food chain DNA tracing would also provide a faster way to identify the source of contaminated meat in the event of a recall. This could speed up the process from weeks or months to just hours. For example, it can identify the multiple animals whose parts were used in ground beef. Ground beef can be made up of meat from 1,000 different animals in a 10-pound box. DNA-tracing could point to particular animals and could even reduce the amount of meat affected by recalls, which generally are tremendously costly for producers, suppliers and others.

Read more: VA-Based Food Distributor Using DNA To Track Beef