I. A brief history of the technology’s development - technology is DNA fingerprinting
II. A brief description of the culture of the selected country, e.g. its government, economy, educational and religious systems, and its status as a high-tech or low-tech nation - country is United Kingdom
III. The specific impact (both positive and negative) that the technology has had upon the culture of the country, e.g. upon its government, economy, educational and religious systems - country is United Kingdom
IV. And the moral and ethical issues brought about by the technology and how the country has dealt with these issues - country is United Kingdom
Below is a rough outline of the specifics:
I. Introduction of DNA Fingerprinting
A. Developed by Sir Alec Jeffreys in 1985 at University of Leicester
1. 1.Evolution of DNA Fingerprinting and DNA profiling (DNA’s Detective Story, 2004)
2. DNA Fingerprinting – How does it work? (Jeffreys, 2005)
B. Dr. Jeffreys’ contribution has led to the creation of several DNA databases worldwide allowing for closer scrutiny from both critics and supporters.
C. For Dr. Jeffreys’ work he was inducted into the Royal Society and sponsored by the Wolfson Foundation (TRS, 2009)
D. A chemical probe was soon developed, known as the Jeffreys probe, by attaching chemicals that were shared between different stuttered regions called minisatellites, which resulted as a pattern of bands, or stripes on x-ray film that could be used in comparisons (BBC, 2009)
II. Detailed background of the United Kingdom
A. The government is a “constitutional monarchy and Commonwealth realm” (CIA, 2009).
1. The constitution set in place is unwritten, partly statutes, and partly common law and practice.
2. The United Kingdom has also a parliamentary democracy, with a queen and a parliament that has two houses: the House of Lords, with 574 life peers, 92 hereditary peers, and 26 bishops; and the House of Commons, which has 651 popularly elected members
1. As of 2008, the official exchange rate of the GDP in the UK is $2.787 trillion dollars (converted from pounds).
a. Compared to the US in 2008, the unemployment rate of the UK sits at 5.5% as opposed to 7.5% to the US.
2. Agriculturally, the UK’s products deal in cereals, oilseed, potatoes, vegetables, cattle, sheep, fish and poultry.
3. The UK entered a recession in the 3rd quarter of 2008. As of June 2009, the economy had shrunk by 5.6% compared to the year before.
4. In July 2009, the UK appeared to have seen the worst of the global recession of 2009, with latest Office of National Statistics figures for 2nd quarter of 2009 showing that the economy shrank by 0.8%, an improvement in comparison to the previous quarter.
1. Languages spoken in the UK are majority English with second language being Welsh along with the rarely spoken Scottish form of Gaelic.
1. According to a 2001 census, a vast majority of the UK’s population is “Christian (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist) at 71.6%, Muslim 2.7%, Hindu 1%, other 1.6%, unspecified or none 23.1%” (CIA, 2009).
III. Impacts DNA fingerprinting has had on the UK
A. Negative/detrimental effects
a. With the establishment of the National DNA Database controversy has arisen with collection and maintenance of samples of people who have not been convicted of a crime (Jobling & Gill, 2004, pg 745).
b. Due to the Government’s decision to allow and expand the police power through changing some English and Welsh laws, more people are alarmed by the potential threat to “genetic privacy”.
a. DNA research is a costly process but the amount spent towards the research does not equal more than 2% of the country’s budget considering most countries spend almost 50% or more on their budget for defense.
a. Various schools in the United Kingdom have put into operation fingerprint locks or registered children's fingerprints. The main basis of this implementation is to discourage school skipping and to replace library cards or money for meals. The fingerprinting is allowed by the British government to be implemented without parental consent. (Edinformatics)
a. Refer to above section; II-D-1 in which almost one-fourth of the population of the UK chose not to define their religion or acknowledge it to be public knowledge therefore how would the religious community feel with their own private identity stored into a nationwide and worldwide DNA database?
B. Positive/beneficial effects
a. For a government use, according to Jeffreys the future of DNA fingerprinting could be miniaturization (lab on a ‘chip’) to allow for analyzing DNA at the crime scene in seconds. (Jeffreys, 2005, pg. 1038-1039)
b. He also points out that the field of DNA could expand to new dimensions of security to DNA PINs as true PINs and be used for everything from credit cards to immigration clearance. (Jeffreys, 2005, pg. 1039)
c. To date the practice of DNA profiling is being used in criminal investigations and stemmed from a criminal investigation in 1986 over the rape and murder of two school girls. DNA profiling was used to identify the true killer and prove the innocence of the prime suspect. (Jeffreys, 2005, pg. 1037)
d. In 1995, a National DNA database was established to maintain samples of those either suspected of or convicted of a crime. To date it is the largest database in the world with nearly 2.7 million samples. (Home Office, 2006, pg 4)
a. While DNA technology doesn’t have a direct impact on the country’s economy, it does share it’s benefits with the medical community in processes such as profiling and identification along with resolving paternal-related matters and of course selling genome scans to consumers for “assessing their genetic risks of developing a range of diseases” (Henderson, 2009, para. 6).
IV. Issues that arose with the use and advances of DNA-related technology
A. From an ethical and moral perspective/viewpoint
1. DNA fingerprinting and its related technology has often been criticized by the public for invasion of privacy due to military and police unrestricted access to the DNA database .
a. Several lawsuits have taken place regarding this matter in courts of the UK.
B. The continuing expansion of police power over the UK population
a.British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced in 2000 that the DNA Expansion Programme would include "virtually the entire active criminal population"—an estimated 3 million people— by 2004. (Wallace, 2006)
b. In March, 2003, it was announced in the UK that the police will be allowed to retain DNA profiles indefinitely, which lead some people to be concerned of possible wrongful conviction. (Linacre, 2003)
c. English and Welsh law permits the police to take DNA samples without consent from anyone arrested, regardless of whether they are charged or not, with the information taken permanently kept (Wallace, 2006).
Here is a list of sources it is not all inclusive just a few that I found:
Aldhous, P. (1992, January). Challenge to British Forensic Database. Nature, 355 (6357), 191. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from ProQuest database (Document ID: 1729093).
Beatson, J. (2009, June). Forensic science and human rights: The challenges. Judiciary of England and Wales. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/speeches/j-beatson-bafs-160609.pdf
Berry, A. & Watson, J. (2003, April). DNA The Secret of Life: Life Sciences – Genetics and Genomics & Biology – Molecular Biology. New York: Random House.
Charter Lecture. (2007). Alec Jeffreys. Biologist. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from Academic Search Premier database
Gill, P. & Jobling, M. (2004). Encoded Evidence: DNA in Forensic Analysis. Nature Reviews Genetics, 5, 739-751. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from http://www.le.ac.uk/ge/maj4/JoblingGill04.NRG.Forensics.pdf
Gill, P. (2005, June). DNA as Evidence - The Technology of Identification. The New England Journal of Medicine, 352 (26), 2669-71. Retrieved July 16, 2009 from ProQuest database (Document ID: ).
Hayden, T. (n.d.). Colin Pitchfork. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from http://www.murderuk.com/one_off_colin_pitchfork.html
Home Office (2006) DNA Expansion Programme 2000–2005: Reporting Achievement. London, UK: The Home Office. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from
Jeffreys, A. (2005, October). Genetic fingerprinting. Nature Medicine, 11(10), 1035-1039.
Kayser, K. (2000, March). DNA Profiling and DNA Engineering. Electronic Journal of Pathology & Histology
, 6 (1), 17.
Kloosterman, A. & Sjerps, M. (2003, August). Statistical aspects of interpreting DNA profiling in legal cases. Statistica Neerlandica, 57(3), 368. Retrieved July 17, 2009
Krawczak, M. & Schmidtke, J. (1998, January). DNA Fingerprinting. New York: Random House.
Rothstein, M. (2005, June). Genetic Justice. The New England Journal of Medicine, 352 (26), 2667-8. Retrieved July 16, 2009 from ProQuest database (Document ID: ).
The Royal Society. (2009, July). Sir Alec Jeffreys FRS – DNA fingerprinting. The Royal Society. Retrieved July 17, 2009 from http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=1523
Zagorski, N. (2006). Profile of Alec J. Jeffreys. [Electronic Version]. The National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 103(24): 8918–8920. Retrieved July 14, 2009 from http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1482540
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