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Health

Imagine a world with ubiquitous DNA tests....

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanOctober 16, 2011 6:53 PM

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I thought of that when stumbling upon this story of Spanish babies being sold to adoptive parents, while the biological parents were told that the baby had died:

"The father of a friend of mine admitted to him that both he and I had been bought from a priest and a nun from Zaragoza after being born in the Miguel Servet hospital," said Antonio Barroso, who discovered four years ago that he was adopted. DNA tests have proved that the people who raised him were not his real parents. "There are cases that are accompanied by proof in the form of DNA tests and others that are simply mothers who suspect that their babies were stolen," said lawyer Enrique Vila, who represents the National Association of Irregular Adoptions. "We think it was an organised mafia."

Some of the people who want to expose this practice in terms of its magnitude are trying to make the case for coordinated international DNA databases (some of the babies were sent abroad). That's not possible now, but in 10 years in may be. To ascertain relatedness is actually rather easy, but by that point many people in the developed world will have their full genomes. At that point we'll also get a better sense of the scale of cuckoldry (I suspect that the frequency is less than people assume). More disturbingly we'll also get a better understanding of the prevalence of incest. All of this ties back I think to the issues about how exposing your genetic information to the public impacts your family. I don't necessarily think at a discussion of these issues is useless or unwarranted, but, I do hope that we can prioritize our concerns, because there's going to be a lot to talk about....

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