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DNA Collection at Birth: The Death of Genetic Privacy

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krnel
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last yearBusy7 min read

In the era of data, so much about is being harvested online. From our search behavior to online profile data, it's all being stored and often used for advertising and marketing. Worse yet are spying projects like NSA's Echelon, PRISM and wiretapping to know what everyone is up to.

Stories of this spying has made it in the news in the past years. But something that isn't talked about is the common practice of harvesting our genetic data. The 50 U.S. states have been collecting DNA samples from all newborns for the past 50 years. The blood is taken from pin-prickled samples of the heal of newborns within hours after birth, stored for 3 month or forever depending on states laws.



thierry ehrmann, flickr

Preventing Disabilities

The The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) operates under federal law to take blood samples for "research purposes". They test the blood for congenital disorders and possibly prevent severe disabilities.

It started in the 1960s, with Dr. Robert Guthrie who developed a screening test for the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU). Left untreated, this can lead to mental retardation or other brain disorders. It became a cost-effect, wide-scale, genetic screening process. It went on to include testing for other genetic predispositions and several diseases.

DNA Profiling


Source: pixabay

Saving DNA became common place. DNA samples could then be sold to labs for further medical research. DNA profiles of each child can be done and that data can be held somewhere even when the blood sample is gone.

After a test is done, and the newborn blood doesn't show any problems, you don't have a right to opt out of the storage. California has a state-run biobank that stores the baby-blood forever. You can find out if your child's blood spots have been used in research, but most parents don't even know this is going on. Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Vermont also have indefinite DNA retention practices.

No Consent

If you have or are going to have a baby, you might want to be aware of this. But no parent is being told about this to consent to it. And they aren't only used for medical research without our consent, but also for law enforcement purposes.

The Citizens' Council for Health Freedom (CCHF) states:

That which the government holds, the government owns. A child’s DNA held by the government could be sequenced, meaning a baby’s genetic code could be completely detailed and mapped—and then recorded in a state government database, used and shared.
This is private information America's tiniest citizens, who will grow into adults stripped of their genetic privacy when they weren't able to protect themselves.

Evidence can already be planted to frame people of crimes. Governmental agencies aren't to be blindly trusted. They can frame innocent people who are trying to expose corrupt or criminal activity. The news can already be manipulated to make someone look guilty who is trying to expose government lies. When they have our DNA, they can more easily use it against us.

Eugenics

As some might be aware, eugenics used to be popular in the early 20th century and prior to that. Culling the human herd and selecting on the "best" stock to try to breed superior humans was favored by some famous minds. But after WWII, the Nazis tainted the term eugenics, and so this practice has gone into hiding, but still remains popular among many elite circles. Sterilization was done, and is still being done.

Our modern era has started to popularize this practice again through the genetics research and genetic modification. Selecting genes, introduction genes, and removing genes, is being done in plants and in animal research. There are vision of the future for designer babies. We already have artificial insemination. Some people fantasize about taking it further, to being able to create children through scientific methods.


Gattaca

Many people view certain things as deficient in themselves, and want to make a super human offspring for themselves. The manipulation of genes is viewed as a solution to all the problems, leading to a "perfection" of humanity. We can end up in a world like Gattaca, where natural borns are lesser is society, with an inability to climb the social structure due to being "inferior". Transhumainsm will lead towards the same ends.

Control

Private corporations and governments already have our psychological and genetic profiles. They own the data, not us. How can we trust this when we can't even stop them from taking our data form us?

We already have a serious issues with not being able to opt-out of vaccines for children or at work with dire consequences in our lives. People lose jobs, children are denied admittance to schools, and parents even lose custody of their children. There is a tyranny on our free will to be unable to live without the impositions of various authorities.

Blood spot DNA storage can be opted out of for now, but maybe that will change in the future as well. To learn if you can opt out, read the Newborn Genetic Testing and Surveillance Systems pdf from the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom. You could allow the DNA testing for any issues, then insist on no storage being made and to provide proof that the sample is destroyed.

It's not just crazy "conspiarcy" thinking, as doctors even admit to the potential negaitve consequences of state DNA collection and storage. The CCHF has a report called "NEWBORN GENETIC SCREENING The New Eugenics?" that recommends changes to how blood spots are being done:

  • Allowing parents to choose the conditions for which their child is tested
  • Destruction of current State newborn DNA repositories
  • Before newborn blood is taken, require informed written consent for:
    • Newborn genetic screening
    • Government storage of test results and newborn DNA
    • Research using newborn DNA and newborn genetic test results

A sure way to avoid this is to have your baby delivered at home, naturally, without a doctor or hospital. If you look into the information about child birth, you can find out that laying on a bed is not the easiest way to give birth. You can avoid being given drugs or a c-section if natural time-tested method of child birth are employed, such as squatting. This is a growing method that many parents have chosen to, which includes doctors.


Thank you for your time and attention. Peace.


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