Uncle Sam could want YOU and your DNA, too

Posted by Jillian Theil on January 20th, 2011

A secretive group of independent, influential scientists who advise the United States government on science and technology recently released The $100 Genome: Implications for the DoD. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it pays little attention to the larger social and ethical questions raised by such technology.

The group, known as the Jasons, was asked to consider the impact of personal genomics over the next decade and to assess the opportunities and challenges of the field for the Department of Defense (DoD). The report concluded with the following recommendations:

  1. Establish procedures for the collection and archiving from all military personnel DNA samples that are compatible with subsequent genotype determination.
  2. Plan for the eventual collection of complete human genome sequence data from all military personnel.
  3. Arrange for the secure, long-term storage of DNA sequence data.
  4. Prepare for the collection of epigenome and microbiome data when appropriate.
  5. Determine which phenotypes are of greatest relevance to the DoD.
  6. Cooperate with health care professionals to collect and store these data.
  7. Use bioinformatics tools to correlate genetic information with phenotypes to discover linkages between the two datasets that will ultimately allow genotype information to be used productively.

Some critics have begun to raise important concerns about the recommendations. Secrecy News and The Huffington Post both ran articles (1,2,3) raising a number of concerns regarding privacy, exploitation, discrimination, and eugenics.

Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News writes:

What could possibly go wrong? Quite a few things, actually.  Besides the risk of failing to maintain the privacy and security of genetic data, the data could be used in unethical ways or their significance could be misinterpreted. ... Acting on genotype information that is not convincingly linked to specific phenotypes could lead to erroneous and detrimental decision making.

Aftergood, quoted in The Huffington Post, also discussed privacy concerns and exploitation:

Questions about control and exploitation quickly become front and center … I think all of us should be concerned about the advancing state of genetic research and its susceptibility to improper or thoughtless use.

It lends itself to corporate control and for-profit exploitation of genetic data, which is the most intimately private information there could possibly be. Your genetic code is more private and more unique to you than anything else in the universe.

Unfortunately, soldiers are particularly susceptible to harms relating to release of their DNA because they are excluded from the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

While the report does acknowledge the need for “resolution of ethical and social issues that arise from these activities,” it fails to do much more beyond this in thinking about potential implications of gathering DNA from soldiers. A spokesperson from the Pentagon says that it is seeking input from others on the issue. But Ann Finkbeiner, author of a book on the Jasons, suggests that they are highly influential: “My feel for the track record is that they are taken very seriously … and I think a lot of their ideas sort of end up in programs.” 

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

Posted in Civil Society, DNA Forensics, Eugenics, Personal genomics


Comments are now closed for this item.

  1. Comment by ReGenesis Films, Mar 22nd, 2011 9:14am

    The published, peer reviewed reports (in mainstream science and medical journals) of Dr. Gerald Pollack, Dr. Mae Wan Ho, Dr. Marcel Vogel, Dr. Glen Rein, Dr. Dan Nelson, and Dr. Jean Benveniste (and many more) repeatedly demonstrate the relationship between DNA and structured water (which has interfaced with certain light and sound frequencies). They have each concluded that the DNA each human is born with is not fixed and responds to biophotonic light (infra red) and sound (phonons) in repeated experiments performed over the past 20 years. These studies are freely available all over the Internet. Of particular interest to this article is the 2010 published work of Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier PhD (discovered HIV) "DNA Waves and Water" is very important to the analysis of other more efficacious options than Eugenics, regardless of the hyperboles used to rationalize it. I would highly recommend to readers Googling the published works of these scientists in the field of structured water and its effect on human DNA morphological changes.

  2. Comment by Jillian, Jan 27th, 2011 10:49am

    Hello Jasmine,

    We would love to know what you mean by your comment. Could you please clarify?


  3. Comment by jasmine singleton, Jan 24th, 2011 8:52am

    in my opinion this is just getting blown way out of proportion



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