Essay about A Dna Database For All Citizens

Essay about A Dna Database For All Citizens

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Since their first establishment in 1995 (Wallace, n.d.), the use of DNA databases has significantly increased. Today, DNA databases are rapidly expanding, with numerous countries using these databases for clinical research and to store criminal DNA (Roman-Santos, 2011). Their potential benefits and current assistance in solving crimes has caused huge controversy, especially surrounding the idea of a universal database. Although there are many benefits, including the identification and study of diseases, as well as improvements in crime detection and prevention, there are also various ethical concerns, such as the right to privacy and the potential for misuse if poorly regulated. These advantages and disadvantages instigate the debate as to whether there should be a DNA database for all citizens.

Biological Background
Profiles on DNA databases are created in a process known as DNA fingerprinting. This process identifies the variations present in the DNA of each individual by comparing certain sequences of non-coding DNA, known as introns (Levitt, 2007). These sequences, called short tandem repeats (STRs), have frequencies unique for every organism, thus enabling DNA to be ‘exactly matched’ to an individual (LeCornu & Diercks, 2011).

DNA fingerprinting begins with the isolation of DNA from the nucleus of cells. Upon extraction, STRs are used as sites to cut genomic DNA into smaller fragments (LeCornu & Diercks, 2011). This is achieved using restriction enzymes, which cut DNA at highly specific recognition sites. As shown in Figure 1, this enables DNA from different sources to be compared, as all fragments will be cut at the same sequence of nucleotides.

As demonstrated in Figure 2, these STR fragments are an...

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... for all citizens provides many advantages and disadvantages for today’s society. It can be used to identify and study diseases and can also be used for crime detection and prevention. Despite these benefits, a universal DNA database raises numerous concerns, including those related to privacy and its potential for misuse. Australia, similar to other countries including the US and UK, currently operates national databases, solely comprised of criminal profiles, for ‘law enforcement purposes’ only (Australian Law Reform Commission, n.d.). I believe, with strict safety and regulation policies implemented, the establishment of DNA databases for all citizens, in Australia and worldwide, will only provide positive and beneficial outcomes. As spoken by Howard Safir, a NYC Police Commissioner, “The only ones who have anything to fear from DNA are criminals” (Pollard, 2000).

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