What are the pros and cons to DNA fingerprinting?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the analysis of DNA is a scientific process, the pros and cons of this practice are social, not scientific.  DNA fingerprinting can be beneficial to a society in that it can help prevent (or at least solve) crimes.  However, it can be bad for society in that it can create real problems with a loss of privacy.

In one sense, DNA fingerprinting seems like a no-brainer.  It helps the police to solve crimes.  Before DNA testing, police scientists might only be able to tell the blood type or the race of a person who had left blood or hair at a crime scene.  Today, they can establish a genetic profile that can be matched to an individual.  This has led to convictions in hard to solve cases and to exonerations of people who had been wrongly convicted.

However, DNA fingerprinting worries some people profoundly. The worry is that a comprehensive DNA database will be established and the government (and perhaps others) will use it to harm people.  For example, the government might force us all to give DNA for profiling as a step towards a police state. Or perhaps insurance companies will demand to see our DNA profile and will refuse to cover us if they see indications that we might develop expensive diseases.

Thus, DNA fingerprinting can be of great value to society, but many worry about its implications for our privacy.