Government Stakes Claim To Every Child's DNA
- Government stakes claim to every newborn's DNA
'We now are considered guinea pigs, instead of human beings with rights'April 03, 2008By Bob Unruh
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
An Orwellian plan that has state and federal governments staking claim to the ownership of every newborn's DNA in perpetuity is advancing under the radar of most privacy rights activists, but would turn the United States' citizenry into a huge pool of subjects for involuntary scientific experimentation, according to one organization alarmed over the issue.
"We now are considered guinea pigs, as opposed to human beings with rights," Twila Brase, president of the the Citizens' Council on Health Care, a Minnesota-based organization familiar with the progress in that state.
She warned ultimately, such DNA databases could spark the next wave of demands for eugenics, the concept of improving the human race through the control of various inherited traits. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, advocated for eugenics to cull those she considered unfit from the population.
In 1921, she said eugenics is "the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems," and she later lamented "the ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all."
Lawmakers in Minnesota recently endorsed a proposal that would exempt stockpiles of DNA information already being collected from every newborn there from any sort of consent requirements, meaning researchers could utilize the DNA of more than 780,000 Minnesota children for any sort of research project whatsover, Brase said.
"The Senate just voted to strip citizens of parental rights, privacy rights, patient rights and DNA property rights. They voted to make every citizen a research subject of the state government, starting at birth," she said. "They voted to let the government create genetic profiles of every citizen without their consent."
The result will be that every newborn's DNA will be collected at birth, "warehoused in a state genomic biobank, and given away to genetic researchers without parent consent – or in adulthood, without the individual's consent. Already, the health department reports that 42, 210 children have been subjected to genetic research without their consent," Brase told WND.
She said although her organization works with Minnesota issues, similar laws or rules and regulations already are in use pretty much all across the nation.
The National Conference of State Legislatures, in fact, lists for all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia the various statutes or regulatory provisions under which newborns' DNA is being collected.
Such programs are offered as "screening" requirements to detect treatable illnesses. They vary as to exactly what tests are done but the Health Resources and Services Administration has requested a report that would "include a recommendation for a uniform panel of conditions."
"Fortunately," he said at the time, "some newborn screening occurs in every state but fewer than half of the states, including Connecticut, actually tests for all disorders that are detectable. … This legislation will provide resources for states to expand their newborn screening programs…"
His plan specifically would provide millions of dollars for educating and training health care professionals in "relevant technologies," and set up standards for updating tests and maintaining the quality of test results.
So what's the big deal about looking into DNA to hunt for various disease possibilities?
Nothing, said Brase, if that's where the hunt would end.
However, she said, "researchers already are looking for genes related to violence, crime and different behaviors."
"This isn't just about diabetes, asthma and cancer," she said. "It's also about behavioral issues."
"In England they decided they should have doctors looking for problem children, and have those children reported, and their DNA taken in case they would become criminals," she said.
In fact, published reports in the United Kingdom note that senior police forensics experts believe genetic samples should be studied because it may be possible to identify potential criminals as young as age five.
"If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large," Gary Pugh, director of forensics at Scotland Yard, was quoted saying. "You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society."
The United Kingdom database already has 4.5 million genetic samples and reportedly is the largest in Europe, but activists want to expand it. Pugh said that it is not possible right now to demand everyone provide a DNA sample, but only because of the costs and logistics.
One published report cited the Institute for Public Policy Research, which is suggesting children from 5-12 in the United Kingdom be targeted with cognitive behavioral therapy and Pugh has suggested adding the children in primary schools, even if they have not offended, to the database.
There, Chris Davis of the National Primary Headteachers' Association warned the move could be seen "as a step towards a police state."
But Pugh said the UK's annual cost of $26 billion from violent crime makes it well worth the effort.
Brase said such efforts to study traits and gene factors and classify people would be just the beginning. What could happen through subsequent programs to address such conditions, she wondered.
"Not all research is great," she said. "There is research that is highly objectionable into the genetic propensities of an individual. Not all research should be hailed as wonderful initiatives."
It can identify some tendencies for potential problems, and that is one of its downfalls, she said.
"It lends itself to be the beginning of discrimination and prejudice," she said. "People can look at data about you and make assessments ultimately of who you are."
Further, the invasion of privacy is huge. DNA is the most intimate identifier that exists, she said.
"This, however, says our DNA is not ours but the government's," she said. "It says our values, our ethics, belief systems have to be [subjected] to the interests of the government."
Right now various states obtain DNA under different plans, and keep the information for varying time periods. In Minnesota, the legislature is working on legal authorization for the state government to take it without consent, keep it forever, and use it for whatever purposes the state desires – all without obtaining consent or even letting people know.
A mandatory sample of a newborn's DNA also pulls back the veil on information about the parents as well, Brase told WND.
"It's like they're collecting information on the whole family," she said.
The Heartland Regional Genetics and Newborn Screening is one of the organizations that advocates for more screening and research.
It proclaims in its vision statement a desire to see newborns screened for 200 conditions. It also forecasts "every student … with an individual program for education based on confidential interpretation of their family medical history, their brain imaging, their genetic predictors of best learning methods…"
Further, every individual should share information about "personal and family health histories" as well as "gene tests for recessive conditions and drug metabolism" with the "other parent of their future children."
Still further, it seeks "ecogenetic research that could improve health, lessen disability, and lower costs for sickness."
"They want to test every child for 200 conditions, take the child's history and a brain image, and genetics, and come up with a plan for that child," Brase said. "They want to learn their weaknesses and defects.
"Nobody including and especially the government should be allowed to create such extensive profiles," she said.
The next step is obvious: The government, with information about potential health weaknesses, could say to couples, "We don't want your expensive children," she said.
"I think people have forgotten about eugenics, the fact of the matter is that the eugenicists have not gone away. Newborn genetic testing is the entry into the 21st Century version of eugenics," she said.
"This is in every state, but nobody is talking about it. Parents have no idea this is happening," she said.