Using DNA to reunite immigrant families shows why genetic screening ‘should be widely embraced’

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As the U.S. government struggles to make good on its promise to reunite all 3,000 children and parents who were separated at the border, it would seem like its use of DNA testing would be universally celebrated.

Instead, immigrant advocates lambasted the move.

Children aren’t qualified to agree to participate in the saliva-collection procedure. Nor can their separated parents give permission on their behalf from afar, obviously — which are violations of international scientific standards of informed consent. And what about children with legitimate non-biological parents or whose parents have already been deported to Central America without them — far away from the nearest spit tube?

But the entrenched opposition also reflects a deep general discomfort about the role of DNA science among immigrant and minority communities.

Related article:  DNA to be collected from migrants in custody through Trump administration pilot program

A 2016 study in Public Health Genomics about Latino people’s attitudes regarding genetic testing revealed rampant mistrust: Respondents said they were concerned about doctors using their health information for unauthorized research or health and life insurance companies denying them coverage after learning they were at risk for future diseases.

Let’s hope the government will use good science responsibly to bring quick relief to anguished children and parents. Not only does it give us a shot at redemption as a country, it sends a clear message that DNA science should be embraced.

Read full, original post: Why There’s a Deep Cultural Aversion to DNA Testing, Even When It Can Reunite Separated Immigrant Families

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