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Published on May 3, 2012
Helen Wallace of GeneWatch UK discusses DNA forensics at the 2011 Tarrytown Meeting.
The Tarrytown Meetings bring together people working to ensure that human biotechnologies and related emerging technologies support rather than undermine social justice, equality, human rights, ecological integrity and the common good.
Presentation Abstract: Ten years ago the UK government set a precedent for police DNA databases to be significantly expanded to include large numbers of innocent people (including children arrested from the age of ten). This expansion was intended to be rolled out internationally, beginning with the US, where forensic databases are now being expanded state by state. The DNA profiles of the whole population of the United Arab Emirates are beginning to be entered on a police database by the UK Forensic Science Service (FSS). US companies are also lobbying to establish or expand DNA databases around the world. The UK DNA database is being scaled back following a successful campaign, a judgment by the European Court of Human Rights in 2008 and a change of government, and the FSS is being wound up due to bankruptcy. However, in 2003 UK lobbying changed UNESCO guidelines requiring the destruction of DNA records from innocent people worldwide. This presentation discussed the extent of the expansion of forensic DNA databases around the world and what can be done to introduce international safeguards to protect human rights.