Genetic surveillance

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"The government's invasion into the privacy of individuals may be best illustrated in the area of genetic testing." [1] "The genetic surveillance and tracking represented by the federally funded Human Genome Project poses enormous threats to our basic rights to privacy and self determination." [2] "If everyone is tested and categorized, the potential for misuse of that information is so great that it screams for legislation to prevent genetic discrimination." [3]

"Genetic technologies reflect the power differentials in our society; they do not equally benefit all segments, nor are they meant to." [4] "Thus these technologies become social and political weapons in an already divided society." [5]

"Genetic surveillance would thus shift from the individual [the alleged criminal] to the family," Nicholas Wade wrote May 12, 2006, in the New York Times, "-- which will require, of course, a national DNA database of NON-criminals." [6]


Original Definitions

  • Genetic surveillance: "The process of identifying people who are at risk of developing a specific disease or of passing such a disease on to their children." [7]
  • Genetic testing: "The examination of a DNA sample, to identify the structure of a specific gene to identify any significant faults (mutations)." [8]

Common Risks from Genetic Testing

There are some common risks which arise from genetic testing: [9]

  • Risk to genetic privacy and confidentiality
  • Risk of genetic discrimination
  • Risk of creating social polarization between "the genetically advantaged and genetically disadvantaged"
  • Risk of "creating a genetic surveillance society"

Related SourceWatch Resources


External links

Articles by Philip Bereano

Articles & Commentary



  • "Millionth DNA sample on database," BBC, November 3, 2004: "The Forensic Science Service (FSS) has celebrated loading the one millionth DNA sample on to its national database since becoming fully automated in 2001."
  • "Fears over expanded DNA database," BBC, November 10, 2004: "Plans for a universal DNA database in England and Wales should be scrapped because of the threat to civil liberties, a new report urges."