European Scientists Fear Problems in DNA Database Network
Monday, September 05, 2011
Human rights groups and scientists are concerned that DNA mix-ups may happen more often once the Prum Treaty is implemented in Europe in 2012. The Prum Treaty is a treaty that was signed on May 27th, 2005 in the town of Prum in Germany by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Spain, to create a super-network of European DNA databases. The Treaty was adopted to enable the signatories to exchange data regarding DNA profiles, fingerprints and Vehicle Registration Data of concerned persons and to cooperate against terrorism. There are currently 26 member states.
A number of countries have missed the 26 August, 2011, deadline for linking up their databases. But it may only be a matter of time before the remaining 16 members of the European Union join the 11 that are already exchanging data.
The worry is that miscarriages of justice will occur more often without better safeguards in place to reduce the chances of false matches. A key concern revolves around the minimum number of locations on a chromosome, or loci, that police will compare when conducting a search. Laboratories in the United States typically look at 13 loci, while in the United Kingdom labs tend to look at 10. The more loci that are analyzed, the more comprehensive the DNA profile will be.
However, the minimum number of loci required to conduct a search under the Prum Treaty is just six, because European countries often use different loci and there is only limited overlap between them.
Read the article here.