by Steve Watson
February 8, 2010
The government is harvesting samples of DNA from every
newborn child in the country, storing them in monolithic bio banks and
providing them to outside researchers and other agencies such as the
Department of Homeland Security, all without the consent or knowledge of
It sounds like the stuff of dystopian nightmare, and it is, but it is also
We have been tracking and reporting the story for years, now it
has hit the headlines once again this week with
CNN probing the issue via
the case of Isabel Brown (pictured below) from Florida.
Isabel’s mother Annie Brown was confused when she was told by health
authorities that her daughter had a gene that put her at risk for cystic
fibrosis, because she had never consented for genetic testing to be carried
out on her child.
Ms Brown then learned that genetic testing of all newborn babies is routine
in every state, and that DNA is kept indefinitely by the government, without
parents ever knowing.
“We were appalled when we found out,” says Brown, who’s a registered nurse.
“Why do they need to store my baby’s DNA indefinitely? Something on there
could affect her ability to get a job later on, or get health insurance.”
Watch CNN’s report:
In April 2008, President
Bush signed into law a bill which formerly
announced the process that the federal government has been engaged in for
years, screening the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. within six months
Described as a “national contingency plan” the justification for the
1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is that it
represents preparation for any sort of “public health emergency.”
The bill states that the federal government should “continue to carry out,
coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening” and “maintain a
central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening… ensuring
that the clearinghouse is available on the internet and is updated at least
Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic
experiments and tests, both by the government and by researchers chosen to
handle the DNA samples and the information that goes with them.
Read the full bill
Many have described the law as the first step towards the establishment of a
national DNA database, like the one in the UK.
2007, then, Senator Obama, filed legislation that would create a
national DNA database. The same bill was filed by Sen. Patrick Kennedy
2008. The bills required parental consent, but all three died in the Senate.
Health care expert and prominent critic of DNA screening, Twila Brase,
president of the
Citizens’ Council on Health Care produced a
analysis of the DNA law in which she warns that it represents the
first program of population-wide genetic testing.
Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:
Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and
children are to be tested.
Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results
Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health
outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.
Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies
to identify, list, and study “secondary conditions” of individuals and their
Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.
“Soon, under this bill, the DNA of all citizens will be housed in government
genomic bio-banks and considered governmental property for government
“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.”
“The public is clueless. S. 1858 imposes a federal agenda of DNA data-banking
and population-wide genetic research. It does not require consent and there
are no requirements to fully inform parents about the warehousing of their
child’s DNA for the purpose of genetic research.”
The government may outsource genetic research to private companies, who may
manipulate, alter or splice the DNA in any way they see fit. Hundreds of
samples have already been used in government commissioned studies.
Such information represents a goldmine to employers, insurance companies,
medical institutions, and
Under such conditions we are faced with the prospect of a society that is
literally the mirror image of the nightmarish vision outlined by Aldous
Huxley in his 1932 novel
Brave New World, where individuals are categorized
in a social hierarchy according to their genetic traits.
DNA of newborns has already been harvested, tested, stored and experimented
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 established this
practice within the law.
The History Channel recently featured a report on the issue as part of its
Eternal Life program. Here is the segment followed by a local news report on
the matter from kxan Austin:
Here is a more detailed report from
kxan news, aired last November:
In certain states, authorities are required to destroy a child’s DNA sample
if a parent demands they do so. Ludicrously, parents wishing to do this must
fill in a form like this one
from Texas or this one
In other states, parents have to put their request in writing, however,
there is no legal requirement for states to destroy the samples.
The practice of taking DNA from all newborns is not limited to the U.S.
In the UK, a similar DNA harvesting program was
rejected in 2005 by The
Human Genetics Commission, who cited cost and ethical problems in a report
to government ministers.
However, DNA profiling of all newborn babies has since been called for by
lawmakers and senior police officers.
In December 2009,
a Dublin hospital was revealed to have built a secret
database containing the DNA of almost every person born in the country since
1984 without their knowledge.
The retention of newborn screening cards has also caused controversy in
Australia and New Zealand where the DNA has been used by police to help to
solve crimes. A sample in New Zealand was used to identify the father of a
dead child against the wishes of the mother.
There is no doubt that the practice is in operation all over the developed
Unless this practice is widely exposed and publicized, we could find
ourselves sleepwalking towards the basis for a new eugenics movement, the
practice of “perfecting” the human race through genetic manipulation,
previously endorsed by
Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and toyed
with by the likes of Adolf Hitler.