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DNA privacy is a lesser priority

February 01, 2009

Re "Do you know who's checking your DNA?," Opinion, Jan. 27

Gail Javitt and Kathy Hudson's opinion piece reinforces a myth that the public should abandon: that individuals have a privacy interest in their DNA. Even if we assume the worst -- that DNA theft is possible and that someone wants to do it -- so what if we know a person's DNA sequence? Of what are we afraid?There are public policy reasons for not giving individuals an unfettered privacy right to their DNA. Much research, including drug development, is focused on finding individuals with rare genetic sequences that may herald cures for serious illnesses. Imagine if an individual with such a gene sequence could hold the world hostage because of "his right to his DNA."

We should not allow individual privacy rights to trump the greater good of scientific research and drug development. Despite our gut reaction to DNA theft, we should err on the side of logic and science, not alarmism.

Jacob S. Sherkow

Ann Arbor, Mich.

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