bush signs bill to take all newborns’ dna

bush signs bill to take all newborns' dnafrom steve watson: President Bush last week signed into law a bill which will see the federal government begin to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. within six months, a move critics have described as the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database.

Described as a “national contingency plan” the justification for the new law S. 1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is that it represents preparation for any sort of “public health emergency.” …

Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. Read the full bill here.

One health care expert and prominent critic of DNA screening is Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council on Health Care who has written a detailed analysis A Critical Analysis of the Implications for Genetic Privacy and Consent Rights in Congress’ Proposed ‘Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007’ (283kb PDF) of the new law in which she warns that it represents the first program of populationwide genetic testing…

“Soon, under this bill, the DNA of all citizens will be housed in government genomic biobanks and considered governmental property for government research,” Brase writes. “The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research.” …

In a previous report we outlined the consequences of the already existing DNA warehousing operation in Minnesota, a program that the Citizens’ Council on Health Care has been following closely for a number of years.

Ms. Brase explained in a statement last month that state Health Department officials are now seeking exemption for the so called “DNA Warehouse” from Minnesota privacy law. This would enable state officials to continue to take the DNA of newborn infants without consent, which would also set the precedent for nationwide policy on DNA screening.

DNA of newborns has already been harvested, tested, stored and experimented with nationwide.

The National Conference of State Legislatures lists for all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the various statutes or regulatory provisions under which newborns’ DNA is already being collected. In addition, all 50 states are now routinely providing these results to the Department of Homeland Security. The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007 merely establishes this practice within the law.

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