DNA fingerprinting refers to identifying complete (or partial) set of genetic information of a particular individual.
It is essentially a DNA-based identification system that relies on genetic differences among individuals or organisms. A sample of blood,saliva, semen,vaginal lubrication or other appropriate fluid or tissue from personal items can be used for DNA fingerprinting. Like fingerprints, every human has unique DNA; unlike fingerprints which can be surgically altered, one cannot change the DNA. The DNA fingerprinting is also known as DNA analysis or DNA profiling.
What is DNA?
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic material typically found in all living cells of humans as well as animals and plants. It invariably contains hereditary data passed on from parent to children which is unique to each person (except in the case of identical twins). This makes DNA profiling a reliable and unique personal identification tool.
Applications of DNA Fingerprinting
1. Identification of criminals:
DNA analysis of hair, bodily fluids, skin, etc., obtained from a crime scene is used to compare with the DNA analysis of suspects to identify the actual criminals.
2. Claim over dead body:
DNA fingerprinting is used to identify the unrecognizable dead body.
Paternity can be established with certainty with DNA analysis.
4. Effective drugs:
Drugs can be developed which are more effective for a particular genetic disposition.
5. Treatment of genetic vulnerability:
Genetic vulnerabilities can be identified beforehand and can be prevented. For instance, if a person has a genetic tendency for hypertension, then preventive steps can be taken to prevent the occurrence of hypertension.
6. Wildlife management:
The more the genetic makeup of plant and animal population is understood, the better conservation and management plans can be formulated.
Concerns over DNA Fingerprinting
1. The information about gene pool can lead to preference for designer babies and ignore the genes which are of undesirable characteristics, thus reducing genetic diversity.
2. Genetic privacy of individuals will be violated. It can have multiple repercussions. For instance, a person with a particular genetic vulnerability may be looked down upon socially.
3. Genetic information can be misused for commercial purposes. For instance, medical institutions will start offering medical packages based on DNA analysis.
4. Genetic information may be used to create weapons of mass destructions which may lead to ethnic cleansing of a particular community.