Civil liberty groups have expressed grave concerns about the potential misuse DNA databases and DNA testing can cause. Paternity tests are another major concern. There are fears that genetic information from paternity tests could be misused and that strict controls and regulations should exist on genetic testing.
DNA Paternity Tests Misused
Surreptitious genetic testing and paternity tests can be used in a devious way. It's thought genetic testing on employees for example could result in evidence used to discriminate against them - such as assessing their risks for disease.
Human Genetics Commission
The Human Genetics Commission has expressed concern in the past about stricter regulations on genetic testing and paternity tests. Some scientists are also concerned that DNA tests used to predict disease could also be misleading or overstating the genetic risks to disease. It's important such tests are taken with proper medical consultation.
Most Paternity Tests Straightforward
However, genetic tests for people with known serious genetic traits in their family can offer useful information in the right context. Currently, many DNA tests are paternity tests that are usually straightforward. Although it's hoped that developments in genetics will help increase access to predictive genetic tests for medical use in the future.
Paternity Tests without Consent
Using paternity tests or DNA analysis without the consent of the person in question however is outlawed. Unauthorised paternity tests have been done in high profile court cases, such as Steve Bing - his DNA was stolen by private detectives from dental floss found in his rubbish. The detectives were hired by the husband of a woman Bing had an affair with.
10,000 DNA Paternity Tests
It's thought that around 10,000 DNA paternity tests are conducted every year in the UK, but there are no figures on paternity tests that may be conducted without consent. As well as paternity tests, there have also been privacy concerns raised on other DNA analysis after an alleged plot was discovered to steal hair from Prince Harry to obtain his DNA profile. The concern is that tabloid journalists for example could use such information to find out if the Prince is at risk of genetic diseases.
Tighter Controls on DNA
Despite the concern for tighter regulations on DNA and paternity tests, the police are allowed to use DNA tests without consent. Paternity tests and DNA testing remain a precarious balance between the right to know vital information and the risk that such information could be damaging in the wrong hands.
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