Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

DNA Collection Kit
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Our school is distributing DNA collection kids to elementary students.

My son’s will be promptly round-filed.

Like many a well-intentioned-but-flawed process, they’re doing this to protect the children. This kit will supposedly help the police locate your child should he be kidnapped, molested, or otherwise run afoul of some Great Evil.

Mm-hm. And how, exactly, will that work? If my kids are kidnapped but recovered alive, the feds can draw their DNA and run a paternity test. If the kids are murdered and their otherwise-unidentifiable bodies are turned up in a forest somewhere, well… let’s just say it hardly matters at that point. And the odds of the latter scenario taking place approach astronomical, despite what the media would have us believe.

So again, how does having my child’s DNA (or fingerprints, for that matter) on-hand or in a database help protect my child? Is someone developing some DNA sniffer that will take this sample and then roam the populace in search of my child? I doubt it.

Now let’s be paranoid the other way and discuss the potential for abuse. With these convenient packets, there’s now a huge sample of DNA for a given population available to whoever can get their hands on it. Yes, Gattaca was just a movie, but we don’t know where technology is going to take us five, ten, or even twenty years from now when these kids are adults. Abuses could range from discrimination to high-tech identity theft to government monitoring.

“C’mon, Mike, that’s just sci-fi.”

Okay, let’s bring it a little closer to the present and remove the 1984 factor and consider two scenarios:

1) An insurance company gets their hands on the data. They discover a high incidence of a gene related to colon cancer. The bean counters crunch their numbers and boom, premiums for the area go up.

2) A pharmaceutical company uses the genetic data for research. Iceland sold their genetic database, and all of the same concerns for abuse are there. One theft, unscrupulous employee, well-placed bribe, or new law and your DNA is up for grabs. The pharma company probably saves a ton of money, but do you think that savings will be passed on to you when you need the new meds? Hardly.

Still think it’s far-fetched? They’re already halfway to #1:

Some scientists believe that the homogeneity of a population such as Iceland makes the search for genes associated with a disease a simpler task. deCODE has already discovered variations in the Icelander’s genome that may indicate susceptibility to multiple sclerosis, hereditary hand tremors, and osteoarthritis.

And it was all government-mandated:

The government of Iceland has passed a law enacting the creation of a national health database. As first proposed, the bill required only medical and family history records to be included in the database. Opposition to the bill escalated when the government decided to add genetic information.

Given the PATRIOT Act and other overreactions to 9/11, do you really think our government wouldn’t do the same?

Thanks for thinking of us, Knights of Columbus. I’m sure your intentions are pure, but I’m going to take a pass on this one.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

One comment

  1. Kelli says:

    I don’t think you’re paranoid at all–and the insurance thing is just one issue. Imagine if they start deciding that they should teach differently depending on genes, or offer jobs/loans/whatever? There’s a hundred and one different ways this idea could go sour.

    Of course, all that said, I have fingerprints for both my kids from a kit that came home from school when they were young. Mind you, “I” have them. The schools, hospitals, teachers, police don’t. If something happens, I have them, but no one else has them for their own agendas.