DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by rdwhite, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. rdwhite

    rdwhite
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    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html?_r=4

    I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I've been saying this for months. Any type of evidence can be fabricated and used against a person. From phone records, to internet records and computer files, to finger prints and now the bastion of criminal evidence.
     
  2. windcatcher

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    may be this is an interesting story..... Wish you'd post enough quote of the essential facts to read here because my computer refuses to open the link without requiring that I subscribe or sign in as a member. Just saying...... and thank you.
     
  3. rdwhite

    rdwhite
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    Sorry about the link thing, It is not a long article, I've copied it here.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html
    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
    August 18, 2009
    DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show
    By ANDREW POLLACK

    Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases.

    The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.

    “You can just engineer a crime scene,” said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. “Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”

    Dr. Frumkin is a founder of Nucleix, a company based in Tel Aviv that has developed a test to distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones that it hopes to sell to forensics laboratories.

    The planting of fabricated DNA evidence at a crime scene is only one implication of the findings. A potential invasion of personal privacy is another.

    Using some of the same techniques, it may be possible to scavenge anyone’s DNA from a discarded drinking cup or cigarette butt and turn it into a saliva sample that could be submitted to a genetic testing company that measures ancestry or the risk of getting various diseases. Celebrities might have to fear “genetic paparazzi,” said Gail H. Javitt of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.

    Tania Simoncelli, science adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union, said the findings were worrisome.

    “DNA is a lot easier to plant at a crime scene than fingerprints,” she said. “We’re creating a criminal justice system that is increasingly relying on this technology.”

    John M. Butler, leader of the human identity testing project at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said he was “impressed at how well they were able to fabricate the fake DNA profiles.” However, he added, “I think your average criminal wouldn’t be able to do something like that.”

    The scientists fabricated DNA samples two ways. One required a real, if tiny, DNA sample, perhaps from a strand of hair or drinking cup. They amplified the tiny sample into a large quantity of DNA using a standard technique called whole genome amplification.

    Of course, a drinking cup or piece of hair might itself be left at a crime scene to frame someone, but blood or saliva may be more believable.

    The authors of the paper took blood from a woman and centrifuged it to remove the white cells, which contain DNA. To the remaining red cells they added DNA that had been amplified from a man’s hair.

    Since red cells do not contain DNA, all of the genetic material in the blood sample was from the man. The authors sent it to a leading American forensics laboratory, which analyzed it as if it were a normal sample of a man’s blood.

    The other technique relied on DNA profiles, stored in law enforcement databases as a series of numbers and letters corresponding to variations at 13 spots in a person’s genome.

    From a pooled sample of many people’s DNA, the scientists cloned tiny DNA snippets representing the common variants at each spot, creating a library of such snippets. To prepare a DNA sample matching any profile, they just mixed the proper snippets together. They said that a library of 425 different DNA snippets would be enough to cover every conceivable profile.

    Nucleix’s test to tell if a sample has been fabricated relies on the fact that amplified DNA — which would be used in either deception — is not methylated, meaning it lacks certain molecules that are attached to the DNA at specific points, usually to inactivate genes.
     
    #3 rdwhite, Aug 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2009
  4. Johnv

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    That's great. OJ is still guilty.
     
  5. rdwhite

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    What?? Is that meant to be funny or what? Neither OJ nor his trial has anything to do with this article. As far as I remember, fabricated DNA evidence was not used to convict him of a crime he did not commit.

    It has already been demonstrated that DNA evidence may be planted at a crime scene to implicate an innocent person. However that does require an actual DNA sample from the person, such as a finger nail, strand of hair, or bodily fluid. This study shows that with access to a DNA profile, evidence may be created without having to possess an actual sample from the person. It is already known that DNA databases exist in many nations which catalog the DNA profiles of innocent people who have never even been arrested much less convicted of crime.

    Given this ability along with the ability to create credit card purchases, internet logs, phone logs, travel logs, and computer files, it is conceivable that political dissidents may be blackmailed, silenced, or imprisoned based solely on fabricated evidence. I realize this is nothing new; however, DNA was supposed to be the great tamper proof evidence.
     
  6. Johnv

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    There's a huge leap between the notion that something "can" be fabricated, and someting "is" fabricated, but I think we're in agreement there. I'm not sure why the OP is news, because it's certainly not anything that wasn't known before. DNA evidence, kile fingerprints, is quite empirical, regardless of the OP.

    In regards to OJ, the defense alleged that evidence, including DNA evidence, was purposefully fabricated and/or contaminated. It wasn't, but it was sufficient to plant reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. OJ's civil trial was not so swayed. Even though he beat the criminal charges, he was found liable for the deaths.
     

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