Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives

By Bartha Maria Knoppers | Go to book overview

A Survey of the Variability of DNA Banks Worldwide

Nicole Palmour

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University


Introduction

DNA banking is not a new topic but it has recently become evident that there is more global DNA banking occurring than anyone might have suspected. The advances in science and technology that have allowed the sequencing of the Human genome to become a reality have also inspired commercialisation. Commercialisation includes, but is not limited to, intellectual property rights, the development of diagnostic tests, public offerings of genotypic information and the development of genetically based pharmaceuticals.

It seems that there are weekly reports of new findings, new genes and new tests that have captured the public’s attention and focused it on DNA and the facilities that store it. A quote from Dr. Philip Reilly at the 1999 National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence speaks to that very point. “We have actually arrived at universal DNA databanking. It’s just no one’s talking about it”.1 The inspiration for this work was a paper written by McEwen and Reilly in 1995, which surveyed research laboratories that banked DNA.2 None of the facilities considered themselves to be DNA banks. The current study is an initial effort to assess DNA banking in the public domain, as well as changes in the field from 1995 to the present.

Not only is DNA banking going on globally but in many cases there are no unified standards governing the practice. There are measures under way to unify law enforcement standards but the commercial and public health initiatives have little motivation to standardize their procedures.3 The International Society of Forensic Genetics, the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes, and the European DNA Profiling Group are pushing for a

Bartha Maria Knoppers (ed.). Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. © 2003 Koninklijke Brill NV. Printed in the Netherlands.

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