News of the WeekForensic Science

Scientists Decry Isotope, DNA Testing of ‘Nationality’

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 30-31
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_30

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Scientists are greeting with dismay a project to use DNA and isotope analysis of tissue from asylum-seekers to evaluate their nationality and help decide who can enter the United Kingdom. The existence of a DNA-based program to identify nationality, was revealed in late September, sparking protests from refugee advocates. The plan is to look for ratios of certain isotopes in tissue that could be matched to ratios in the environment where a person was born or grew up. If the pilot project is successful, the Border Agency suggests that it could be extended.