GENEWATCH
 
TOPIC UPDATES: DNA ALARM SYSTEMS, SICKLE CELL TESTING, GM MOSQUITOES
By CRG Staff
 

DNA Alarm Systems: "You Steal, You're Marked"

Are you a storeowner who has been burglarized? Frustrated that your alarm didn't help you nab the culprit? If old fashioned security cameras just aren't doing the trick, why not try a new system: one that sprays synthetic DNA all over the thief.

In fact, this product does exist. Some stores in the Netherlands are already trying it out­­­-with mixed results­-and ADT is marketing a similar product in Australia, calling it "DNA Guardian." The mechanism sounds simple: a can is mounted over the door, and when triggered, it sprays a fine mist onto whoever passes below it. The mist, which is only visible under UV light, contains synthetic DNA with specific markers that can connect the culprit-once collared-to the scene of the crime.

The product's distributors emphasize that the system's value is actually in prevention rather than capturing the thief-in fact, the system has led to zero arrests so far. The preventative value relies largely, they say, on the mystique of DNA, which causes potential crooks to take the sign on the door seriously: "You Steal, You're Marked."

 

NCAA Imposes Mandatory Sickle Cell Testing

As of August 1, the National Collegiate Athletic Association requires all Division I student-athletes-about 170,000 people- to be tested for sickle cell anemia.

The intention is to protect athletes who carry the trait, a response to a lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the family of a 19-year-old who died after overexertion at a football practice, unaware that he had sickle cell anemia. However, mandatory testing carries significant privacy and discrimination concerns.

"This could have an extraordinarily heavy impact on black athletes," says Troy Duster, professor of sociology at New York University. "You are going to be picking out these kids and saying, 'You are going to be scrutinized more closely than anyone else.' That's worrisome."

The Sickle Cell Anemia Association of America and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children are among those voicing concerns.

While many athletic directors, doctors and parents support the program, R. Rodney Howell, chair of the HHS committee, is not convinced.

"If you are going to test for sickle cell trait, it should not be done in the locker room by a coach."

The NCAA stands by the requirment and is considering extending the mandatory testing to Division II athletes.

 

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Released Into the Wild

In early November, U.K. biotech company Oxitec announced that genetically modified mosquitoes of its design had been released in the Cayman Islands-a year earlier.

The mosquitoes are designed to reduce dengue fever by mating with existing populations and producing larvae that die unless exposed to the antibiotic tetracycline. Over three million mosquitoes were released in the Caymans-unbeknownst to opponents of the project.

Oxitec defends the release, saying they worked with the Cayman government to carry out a risk analysis and gather local input, but say they made "no special effort either to spread the word internationally or not to."

Although safety studies have not been released from the Cayman trials, new releases are planned for Malaysia and Oxitec is seeking approval from Panama, Brazil and the United States.

 
 
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The Council for Responsible Genetics’ Genetic Privacy Manual: Understanding the Threats- Understanding Your Rights will be a comprehensive, electronic source of information for the consumer on these issues.
 
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For centuries, human societies have divided population groups into separate races. While there is no scientific basis for this, people unquestioningly accept these classifications as fact.
 
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