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DNA Testing Used In Bosnia

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DNA Testing and The Military

It is something you probably would never have to think about, but for some during times of war especially, DNA testing can be crucial. People with high risk jobs or who are in the army are more likely to think about banking their DNA – testing and banking your own DNA can provide important information, including identifying remains or helping cases of amnesia. The US military for example has compulsory testing and banks DNA from all service members.

DNA Testing in Srebrenica

In 2001, scientists identified victims from the 1995 Srebrenica massacre through DNA testing. Improved technology in analysis of DNA means there has been an important breakthrough in helping to identify bodies exhumed from mass graves. The software developed in Bosnia were also used to help identify victims from the World Trade Centre September 11 attacks in New York.

Finding Living Relatives

Forensic scientists needed to disentangle and identify the remains. Scientists undertook DNA testing on living relatives to help identify the bodies. Thousands of blood samples and bone samples were taken for testing to help find results, so relatives could finally receive the remains of their loved ones.

Techniques Used

In the past, DNA testing and techniques developed over the past two decades have been used to identify the dead from aeroplane crashes, but Bosnia and the World Trade Centre were the first incidents on such a large scale. The BBC reported that there are an estimated 40,000 people lying in mass graves in the former Yugoslavia.

DNA Analysis at The World Trade Centre

DNA testing to identify victims of the World Trade Centre was more straightforward than that in Bosnia, although no less harrowing. The war graves in Bosnia were up to nine years old and in some cases whole families were wiped out with no surviving relatives. In New York, DNA samples could be taken from the toothbrushes of those that died rather than surviving relatives.

DNA Testing and Banking

Such scenarios are thankfully rare in life, but many people still opt for DNA testing so they can log their DNA in a DNA bank. Reasons include:

  • To compare your DNA with other DNA profiles in your family, for instance for estate protection
  • If you work in a high risk environment, some companies benefit from having their employee’s DNA banked in case it is required for identification purposes after an incident.

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