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Abuse of politicians' DNA feared

BOSTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Two scientists called for ground rules to prevent an abuse of genetic information about U.S. presidential candidates, which will likely available in four years.

"By then, advances in genomics will make it more likely that DNA will be collected and analyzed to assess genetic risk information that could be used for or, more likely, against presidential candidates," bioethicist George Annas and neurologist Robert Green of Boston University write Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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They argue presidents deserve some privacy when it comes to their health, even if the public has legitimate interest in a leader's health.

"If for no other reason, I want my president to get all the medical help he or she needs without going through, 'What would the public think if I go to a doctor, especially if I seek mental health care?'" Annas told The Boston Globe.

In addition, no one can really predict what someone's genes mean for a four-year presidential term, the professors write.

While genome information can be helpful, a lot of it produces "false positive" findings and much data, even if accurate, will be overinterpreted, the professors write.

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"We're going to need some scientists who are non-partisan to authoritatively tell the public this is meaningless," Annas told the Globe.

Johns Hopkins University's Genetics and Public Policy Center Director Kathy Hudson tells USA Today she's concerned "genetic paparazzi" will surreptitiously obtain someone else's DNA and have it sequenced.

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