September 10, 2009

DNA pioneer questions British DNA database

British geneticist Alec Jeffreys, a pioneer in the use of DNA in criminal investigation, says his country's DNA database should be reduced dramatically.

Twenty-five years after his research helped revolutionize DNA fingerprinting and profiling, Jeffreys has questioned the current size of Britain's DNA database and its infringement on residents' privacy, The Times of London reported Thursday.

We now have a database that is populated with in the order of 800,000 entirely innocent people, which is bigger than the entire database of Germany or France, Jeffreys said.

So, this does raise very serious issues of discrimination and genetic privacy, stigmatization. There's a whole host of issues here and my view is very simply that they should not be on the database at all.

After Jeffreys discovered in 1984 how to recognize individual differences in DNA, the scientific method was used to catch a criminal for the first time in 1988.

The Times said last year alone, DNA fingerprinting helped solve 17,614 crimes in Britain.