10 April 2007

DNA - the double-edged sword

The almost magical science of DNA testing... can cut your heart out.

I posted something just a little while ago, about the use of "DNA testing" in genealogy. The same science that's being applied so successfully to "criminal forensics", is now also being used to re-establish distant family relationships that have become hazy over the passage of time.

It has also become a tool to verify familial relationships for immigration purposes.

Sometimes though, you don't get the results you're looking for.

-- When the DNA results landed on Isaac Owusu’s dinner table here last year, they showed that only one of the four boys — the oldest — was his biological child.

Federal officials are increasingly turning to genetic testing to verify the biological bonds between new citizens and the overseas relatives they hope to bring here, particularly those from war-torn or developing countries where identity documents can be scarce or doctored.
Which got my "science in genealogy" wheels spinning...

Six years ago now, I left Toronto and moved to a small rural community... where oft-times the name on the family farm hasn't changed for close to 200 years. It's been a thoroughly positive experience, but there have been a few minor adjustments... like how inter-connected most people are out here.

Obviously, back in pioneer days, there were less, shall we say -- matrimonial options -- out in the sticks, which led to a somewhat initially restricted gene pool. This social circumstance lasted well into the 20th century.

Human nature being what it is... and now that home "DNA test kits" are out there... I've always thought it would be interesting for all the longterm residents of the community to "get typed". I think the results would be fascinating.

That said, there would probably be some fallout, from the... uh, unexpected connections and more significantly... the lack of any connection at all.

Science may have changed, but human nature itself is immutable.

So, what is the bigger picture here?
Mary K. Mount, a DNA testing expert for the A.A.B.B. — formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks — estimates that about 75,000 of the 390,000 DNA cases that involved families in 2004 were immigration cases.

Of those, she estimates, 15 percent to 20 percent do not produce a match.
Hmmm... maybe we'll put that one on the back burner.

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GOGOMOM said...

Sounds as though you were visiting Oregon!

The Rat said...

I'd have to dig to find the link/source but as a student of genetics I remember a stat that stated up to 10% of children (in the US, I would suggest) are "mistaken" as to the real identity of their father. General screening of children at birth could be, uh, problematic.

Neo Conservative said...

"the rat said... up to 10% of children (in the US, I would suggest) are "mistaken" as to the real identity of their father"

it would be interesting to try correlate admitted rates of infidelity with that number.

otoh, getting a fix on that percentage, would likely only serve to drive up the divorce stats.

the snake eats its own tail sort of deal.