DNA Fingerprinting Pros and Cons

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Fingerprinting has been a standard method of identification for generations. The fingerprints that people have are considered to be unique and a reliable method of identification. DNA fingerprinting takes this principle a step further by creating personal typing profiles from hair, blood, or skin samples. Once stored, this information could be matched to identify the presence of an individual in the future.

These DNA fingerprinting pros and cons show that there are many benefits to this science, but those benefits may come with a cost.

The Pros of DNA Fingerprinting

1. It makes identification much easier.
Even if someone doesn’t leave their fingerprints behind, a drop of blood, a skin flake, or a hair that gets left behind can still identify someone. Should a database match not be obtained, the identification information can be stored for future matching.

2. DNA is highly durable.
There isn’t the same degradation profile with DNA typing as there is with fingerprint dusting. It is also much more difficult to alter DNA than it is to alter fingerprints in order to obscure an identity.

3. It can be used in a variety of ways.
DNA fingerprinting isn’t just about identification for criminal purposes. It can also be used to determine biological parental relationships, establish a person’s true identity, and even to help determine lineage.

The Cons of DNA Fingerprinting

1. The presence of a DNA database creates privacy concerns.
How legal, ethical, or moral is it to indefinitely store the DNA of people? Especially people who have never committed any crime, missed a child support payment, or had the fingerprinting done to establish their identity? Privacy issues especially make a long-term database problematic.

2. It isn’t 100% reliable.
Although the identification process is very accurate, it isn’t 100% accurate. The entire genome is not examined in DNA fingerprinting, which means there is still a small chance of an inaccurate match occurring.

3. Human error could create unfavorable outcomes.
Because the science behind DNA fingerprinting is considered to be exact and accurate, any human errors that occur during the typing process could create an outcome that is negative for all those involved.

These DNA fingerprinting pros and cons show that we’re on the right track. There are still some issues to be worked out, but the reliability of this identification system has been proven.