Local News

Proposed State DNA Database Would Be Used For More Than Just Solving Crimes

Posted May 14, 2003

— When state lawmakers talk about DNA, they are usually referring to its use in criminal cases, but DNA also has medical implications, and the state Legislature is now looking at using it to boost the business of biotechnology in North Carolina.

"North Carolina is ranked by almost any student in biotechnology the third fastest growing state in biotechnology. It's time that we try to become No. 1. Not No. 1 in the U.S. but No. 1 in the world," said Rep. Paul Miller, D-Durham.

Miller chairs a House panel studing proposals to start a DNA database, which can be used as a research tool.

"On one hand, we are looking for individualized tailored medicine, but what it's going to take to get there are large resources where we are able to look at large numbers of people's DNA medical records," said Dr. Jim Evans, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Collecting DNA samples for the database is a source of controversy. Proposals include taking samples from convicts, asking inmates to volunteer samples and looking for public donors.

"It just has to be really thought out and done carefully because of all the privacy concerns," Evans said.

The House science and technology committee could vote next week on the DNA sampling measures.


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