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Hastings Cent Rep. 1990 Mar-Apr;20(2):35-7.

DNA fingerprinting in the twilight zone.

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Law Medicine & Ethics Program, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health.



DNA fingerprinting, which may enable individuals to be identified from small DNA samples obtained from trace materials such as blood, semen, and hair, has been hailed by law enforcement officials as the ultimate law enforcement tool. Annas describes how DNA typing works and how recent challenges to its validity have succeeded in two criminal cases. A lack of standards for laboratories performing and validating DNA fingerprinting threatens the effective use of the technology. Annas recommends a voluntary moratorium on the use of DNA fingerprinting by prosecutors until two issues are settled: the promulgation of national standards for laboratory procedures; and whether law enforcement agencies should use public or private laboratories for testing.

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