Ever since DNA has been determined as a way of identifying criminals, DNA fingerprinting has been more prevalently used in crime scenes. DNA fingerprinting is a method for identifying and assessing the genetic information of DNA in a living thing’s cell. DNA is called a fingerprint because of the improbability that two people will have similar DNA characteristics in the same manner that no people can have identical fingerprints. Learn more about the various reasons of DNA fingerprinting, ways of doing it, and its social implications.
Different conditions demand DNA fingerprinting. One reason for using DNA fingerprinting is to identify the real parents or siblings of a person. The method can be helpful in finding family members and determining true heirs. Also, DNA fingerprinting is relevant when babies have been switched at birth and parents want to know who their real babies are. Baby switching in the hospital is not only soap-opera stuff but happens in real life because of accidents and tired healthcare professionals who make mistakes, apart from possible conscious, malevolent motives. Another purpose of DNA fingerprinting is solving crimes, and this is already practiced under forensic science. Blood, skin, semen, and tissues at the crime scene can be analyzed to determine if the suspect was present or not at the crime scene. Finally, DNA fingerprinting can help identify bodies. During war or disasters, bodies can be mangled or already achieve the state of decomposition and the only way of identifying them may be through DNA fingerprinting. Hence, DNA can help resolve diverse issues regarding the determination of identity.
Doctors or laboratory technicians can conduct DNA fingerprinting in several ways. First, they can take blood samples from a vein. The doctor will wrap a band around the upper arm to stop blood flow and then insert the need to draw a blood sample. Another way is getting blood through a heel stick which is the most common approach for babies. To do this, several blood drops are collected from the baby’s heel. Several more methods are possible such as collecting DNA from semen, dried blood, and saliva. DNA can also be acquired from hair and urine. If the body has decomposed already, bone and teeth samples can offer DNA as well. Different body discharges and parts can offer useful DNA samples.
DNA fingerprinting poses social implications as it has pros and cons. Since it can determine identities of dead bodies or used in crime scenes, DNA databases are being developed. On the one hand, DNA fingerprinting is more accurate than fingerprints and blood type and has been used to overturn death penalty rulings after finding out that the convicted were not at the crime scenes in the first place. On the other hand, several critics fear the impact of DNA fingerprinting on genetic profiling. For instance, some people feel that those determined as at risk for certain diseases through DNA characteristics may have problems getting jobs or being promoted. Likewise, the DNA sample may give predictive information about children and while it may be beneficial to police profiling can produce unnecessary discrimination. Discrimination can affect access to schools, housing, medical insurance, and livelihood. To avoid these negative effects, proponents of DNA fingerprinting recommend the confidentiality of DNA results and to have a law for resolving disputes from genetic discrimination.
DNA fingerprinting is helping many people find their relatives, identifying criminals, and the proper burial of dead bodies. While it can lead to genetic profiling and discrimination, the government and concerned organizations can set up mechanisms to reduce these negative impacts. The state can create proper regulations for DNA databases and their uses. DNA fingerprinting can offer more benefits than costs, and it is up to the people to find ways of maximizing the good it can do for humanity, especially in deterring and solving crimes.