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UC Berkeley students asked to submit DNA samples

  1. May 19, 2010 #1
    UC Berkeley students asked to submit DNA samples. Read more in the NewScientist article: Student DNA scans in California prove controversial

    George Annas at Boston University told the Times:

    Isn't it a bit creepy? 21st century Big Brother?
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  3. May 19, 2010 #2


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    I thought giving out DNA samples was the main preoccupation of new university students?
  4. May 19, 2010 #3
    Aren't the tests free?

    It looks like the students will be informed a little bit about their physiology based on the results.

    So sounds like a good deal.
  5. May 19, 2010 #4


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    I'd like to have mine done.
  6. May 19, 2010 #5
    Yes, why not? Information is power if you are intelligent in how you use it.

    As an analogy, I like knowing my blood type is a universal donor. I now know to be very careful if a day ever comes when I need to get a tranfusion. I also know I can help someone else in an emergency.

    There could be consequences if others know the information. For example, the blood bank calls me often to donate blood, but I don't mind.

    Oh wait! Now you all know my blood type. I'll have retract to my opinion and see what consequences result from that. :wink:
  7. May 19, 2010 #6
    Well, I would probably like to have mine done too, under the condition that they reveal information about very specific genes Im interested in.

    If they only tell me that Im not lactose intolerant or other such bull, there is not enough justification to let somone peek in my DNA. I can drink liters of milk / day, so , yeah, why should they tell me things I already know ? Same bull with alcohol tolerance.
  8. May 19, 2010 #7
    Here's a question. Would you want to learn in college that you have the gene for baldness?

    Not that baldness is a such a bad thing, but it might upset a young man to know he will be bald later in life. It might be devestating if a young woman learns she has two bald genes.

    I wonder if it's better to know or not know about benign things like this.

    Hmmm, would this lead someone to devote their life to curing baldness? More seriously, could a misguided individual decide to kill themself over it?

    I can see this issue getting complicated, but overall I think information and ability to obtain information (if desired) is a good thing.
  9. May 19, 2010 #8
    It will happen anyway. So why don't know about it ? I personally would not loose any sleep because of it. Cross the bridge when you come to it :P
  10. May 19, 2010 #9


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    This is the main problem in a country where you pay for medical cover.
    You have a gene that gives you a greater chance of disease that is going to need $$$$ treatment, then you don't get medical insurance or you don't get hired.
  11. May 19, 2010 #10
    I agree that this is an issue that society will have to contend with. My gut feeling is that there will end up being solutions, most likely in the form of laws. I can't say exactly how this will play out, but I do think the overall end result will be positive. In other words, far more benefits than drawbacks... Famous last words, right? :redface:
  12. May 19, 2010 #11
    Medical insurances were relentless way before the advent of DNA testing. They will decline you the second they found out about a medical condition that you had, or won't insure it, while they will be more than happy to insure whatever part of you is still healthy. Perhaps Obama's plans will fix this.

    As far as getting hired is a tough one. The days are gone when you knew you had secured a job for more than +30 years. People are getting layed off and hired back by another company every few years is the norm - a small risk for the company.

    Job discrimination was always there, depending on where you go. If DNA will only enhance discrimination, the flaw still is more fundamental rather than the DNA.
  13. May 19, 2010 #12


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    Indeed but it is a consideration beyond, cool a free test.

    There was an issue here with blood donors. Blood was tested for HIV, along with lots of other nasties.
    Life insurance companies weren't allowed to ask for the results of a test, and weren't allowed to ask if you were gay or a drug user. But they could ask if you had an AIDS test - on the assumption that if you had a test you were in a risky lifestyle and they would reject you.

    There was a concern that people would stop giving blood if it meant they couldn't get a mortgage - so now the blood is tested but anonymously so if they find a life threatening disease they can no longer tell you.
  14. May 19, 2010 #13
    That's probably an isolated incident. When someones gets tested on their own is a different story, especially when tested more than once.

    Everyone should have a right to have a DNA scan, after all it's your DNA. And if your DNA is used against you then still nothing changes. Corruption always existed.
  15. May 19, 2010 #14


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    True - I think a greater danger is the education that comes with the test.
    Most faulty genes (at least the ones that mean you live long enough to reach Berkeley) are a predispostion to certain conditions - not a definite sentance.
    So a positive test for gene 'X' needs to go along with information that means you have a small % greater risk of say heart disease or breast cancer - and a negative doesn't mean you are invincible.

    And as was described in the other thread most of these you would hopefully know from family history.
  16. May 19, 2010 #15
    Yes, you're right... the DNA is for incoming students, and they're asked to voluntarily submit a DNA sample

    http://www.ktvu.com/news/23592937/detail.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  17. May 19, 2010 #16
    This has been standard for the military for a long time, criminals too. Millions of people already have their DNA on file somewhere.
  18. May 19, 2010 #17


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    So, is this all just for s***s and giggles, or is this a research study being reported out of context? Perhaps this is just the method a group of researchers there is using to recruit a cohort of subjects they can easily follow up on for the next 4 years to find out if their tests actually are accurate? If so, all this will need to be explained to the students before they sign consent forms, and not only does their privacy need to be ensured, but so does any sense of coercion. I'm not sure how you do that when the testing is associated with orientation, unless they just get handed the test kit at orientation and can mail it back later if they choose to participate.
  19. May 19, 2010 #18


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    But unless you are really bad at organic chemistry the chances that you end up a smear of blood on a wall only identifiable by your DNA is relatively small.
    And you can't assume that everyone going to Berkeley is going to enter a life of crime - it's not Harvard
  20. May 19, 2010 #19


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  21. May 19, 2010 #20
  22. May 20, 2010 #21
    I hope your insurance company will still cover you when they find out you are a bad risk. It's better for you not to give genetic samples to anyone in the Internet age. In a few years the cost to sequence and post your genome to the Internet will be low enough that your next girlfriend will know your sperm count before the first date (or stand you up for that first date).
  23. May 20, 2010 #22
    If I were asked for such, I would laugh in the person's face, then probably give a sample from a platypus for ****s and giggles.
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