GenBank: DNA sequences

We have recently been discussing the ethics of DNA sequencing and having a database with our sequences contained for either legal or public use. There have been so many advances in ┬átechnology for collecting DNA samples and efficiently analyzing┬áthem within a lab setting. However, the beginning struggle of collecting these samples is having a sample to compare it to, in this case a perpetrator. This idea of not having a suspect at hand and having DNA that has no sample to compare it to brings the discussion of having a DNA bank with all individuals genetic information placed in it. This seems like a logical way to solve this situation but is it reasonable and ethical? There is always the statement that if you’re not doing anything illegal than why does it matter that the government has your DNA information? Our documents are not impossible to reach if they are needed in a legal situation. This is seen as an invasion of privacy and makes many people uneasy.

In my molecular genetics and synthetic biology courses, we were required to use systems such as GenBank to input sequences into a BLAST search to look for other similar sequences. It is advantageous to scientist because it can identify sequences that they might not know where it comes from.

How we approached this in molecular genetics was we had an Autorad sequence and we needed to figure out the individual ATGC arrangement, in a linear fashion: AGCCTACGATAG for example. Once we manual wrote down every base we were able to put into the blast search that would tell us what it was (enzyme, protein, etc. ), where it was mostly found (animal, plant etc.) what chromosome it is found on, and many other features. This GenBank is public information and allows other scientist around the world to compare their findings of sequencing with others.

 

GenBank: DNA sequences

DNA and Ethics

The National DNA Database is one of the best options at the disposal of law enforcement to identify criminals. On the other hand, many people believe that it invades personal privacy because it was originally created to build a group of criminal profiles, and now it seems to have become a database for all citizens and non criminals alike. In our generation of technological savvy information systems and software, it is pretty easy to find out who exactly someone is based on their DNA and genetic information. I personally have no issue with law enforcement being able to access my DNA, but some believe that the access to this information can reveal ethnicity and disease susceptibility. Our DNA is literally everywhere, your skin cells are all over everything you touch and your saliva cells are on everything you drink or eat from. Therefore, I think it seems as if even without this DNA database, if someone wanted to get access to your DNA, or find out more about you, they would be able to anyway regardless. Furthermore, isn’t it a positive thing if the police know how to identify you? DNA analysis has helped identify missing people and human remains, so I think the pros outweigh the cons in terms of questioning whether a DNA database is ethical in our country.

DNA and Ethics