Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

DNA Databank Danger

DNA Databank Danger

21 November 2001 DNA Databank Danger

A huge database of DNA from almost every New Zealander born since 1969 is being held in storage without the knowledge of most donors and with no adequate control over its security and the use it can be put to, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

Nearly all infants over the last 30 years have been given a heel prick test, also known as a Guthrie test, to test for various congenital abnormalities that can be treated, if detected early enough.

"The tests obviously serve a valuable function in screening babies, but the present system of storage and retrieval is open to abuse and misuse," said Ms Kedgley.

In France and in most programmes operating in the United States, the blood samples are destroyed after the completion of testing.

Not so in New Zealand, where the samples are stored indefinitely, even after the original donor has died. In cases where the donor is dead, the samples become the property of the National Testing Centre.

"There is no justification for keeping the samples after the child has reached adulthood. The creation of a virtual databank containing the DNA of all New Zealanders raises serious legal and ethical questions.

"Medical experts contend that the DNA material is useful for research purposes, but to what end? What safeguards have we that such material cannot be used in GE experiments or for genetic testing," she asked.

Only in the last couple of years has it even been necessary for doctors to obtain parental consent for the taking and storage of their baby's blood sample, meaning up to a million New Zealanders have had their DNA recorded without their knowledge.

Recently, a sample was released by the National Testing Centre and used to identify the parenthood of a dead child, against the wishes of the mother who hadn't even been informed about the storage of her child's blood sample.

The practice of blood sample storage appears to contravene privacy legislation stating that people must be informed of information gathered about them.

"The Privacy Commissioner is sufficiently concerned about the practice to mount his own investigation. What I am calling for is public and parliamentary debate about the issues involved," said Ms Kedgley.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On NZ’s Complicity In Western Sahara

If David Parker really wants to hone his crisis-managing chops on an international trade dispute that New Zealand has been making worse for years, he maybe should be turning his attention to the Western Sahara.

Some background: two NZ companies called Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients appear to be the only independent firms in the world still willing to import phosphate from the disputed territory of the Western Sahara... More>>

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On Malaysia Exposing Our Dodgy Policies On China

Last week, we all owed a vote of thanks to Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad for breaking with protocol during his bilateral with Jacinda Ardern. Reportedly, Mahathir used the photo opportunity phase of the meeting to launch into matters of genuine substance. More>>

ALSO:

Withdrawls After Police Uniform Ban: Auckland Pride Remains Committed

The Auckland Pride Board remains committed to creating a space for our rainbow communities to feel safe celebrating their gender and sexual identity, despite some institutions pulling out from the Parade in recent days. More>>

ALSO:

South Korea: State Visit By Korean President Moon Jae-In

The President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in will visit New Zealand from 2 to 4 December... “I am very much looking forward to welcoming President Moon to New Zealand,” said Jacinda Ardern. More>>

Health: Changes To Drinking Water Standards

David Clark said many of the changes he is making, which will take effect on 1 March 2019, are clarifications or corrections, “but there are two changes which will significantly improve the ability to test and respond to the presence of harmful bacteria such as E.coli”. More>>

ALSO:

IPCA: Police Detention "Unlawful But Reasonable"

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that while Police acted unlawfully in October 2017 when they detained a Queenstown man for a mental health assessment, their actions were reasonable in the circumstances. More>>

ALSO:

Joint Statement: Chile President's NZ Visit

At the invitation of the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, undertook a State Visit to New Zealand on 19 November 2018... More>>

ALSO:

Climate Change: Top Academics Call On Government To Take Action

One hundred and fifty academics and researchers from around Aotearoa, including Dame Anne Salmond, Emeriti Professors and several Fellows of the Royal Society, have signed a strongly-worded open letter to the Government demanding bold and urgent action to tackle climate change. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels