6 Advantages and Disadvantages of DNA Fingerprinting

DNA fingerprinting, which is also known as DNA testing, DNA profiling, and DNA typing, is the process of identifying and analyzing a person’s deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA using blood, hair, bone, semen, and other kinds of tissue. It’s used to identify a person’s parents or siblings and learn more about his family background. It can also be utilized to identify a decomposed body and to determine who the suspect is in a crime.

Proponents of DNA fingerprinting say that it brings several advantages and can contribute a lot to science. However, there are also those who think that this procedure has its drawbacks. Read on to know more about the pros and cons of DNA fingerprinting.

List of Advantages of DNA Fingerprinting

1. It helps people know more about their family background.
As mentioned above, DNA fingerprinting can be used to help a person know who his parents and/or siblings are. It’s incredibly helpful for people who became separated from their families because of adoption, kidnapping, war, natural calamities, and other causes. It’s also helpful for parents who want to know if their child is really theirs or not.

2. It helps solve crimes.
DNA fingerprinting can help law enforcers in two ways. First, it can assist in identifying suspects through the body tissue that they leave on the scene of the crime, such as semen in rape victims’ bodies or pieces of skin that become trapped in the victims’ nails as they claw their attackers and fight back. DNA fingerprinting can also help with identifying victims, particularly those whose bodies become so decomposed that they can’t be identified outright.

3. It can help determine and even prevent illnesses.
Many people have used DNA fingerprinting to know which illnesses they’re predisposed to have. One famous example is Angelina Jolie, who found out through DNA testing that she had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer and opted to have her breasts removed to minimize her chance of developing the disease.

List of Disadvantages of DNA Fingerprinting

1. It can violate people’s privacy.
Several countries nowadays maintain DNA banks of people who committed crimes. Unfortunately, there have been some cases when the DNA of people who were arrested but not convicted were accidentally entered into the database. In this case, DNA fingerprinting can be seen as a tool that violates the privacy of people and makes their personal information easily available to others.

2. It can point the finger at the wrong person.
There have been cases wherein DNA evidence was planted at crime scenes to accuse the wrong person. Since DNA is seen as strong evidence in court, opponents of DNA fingerprinting argue that it can be used to persecute the wrong person while the actual perpetrators remain free.

3. It’s complex and prone to errors.
DNA fingerprinting is a complicated and time-consuming procedure that needs sophisticated machines and fully trained lab specialists. It also requires the samples to be untainted or else they would be useless for testing. Just a small amount of human error (such as exposing the sample to other substances or incorrectly identifying two samples as identical) can ruin the process or alter the results.

Final Thoughts

DNA fingerprinting has several advantages and can help both the authorities and ordinary people. However, it does have its own drawbacks, so it’s up to the experts to make sure that the DNA fingerprinting process is used properly and wisely.