DNA testing has overthrown the way police collect evidence in a number of criminal cases, especially rape and murder and consequently had a large impact on many past cases. However there are many disadvantages to DNA testing, such as a challenge of accuracy, the costs of DNA testing and the possible misuse of DNA. The prospect of a national DNA database in Australia has been heavily criticised with complaints of invasion of privacy and stigma against those with terminal diseases.
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA as it is most commonly known, is a strand of molecules found within the cell nucleus of all living things. It is called a "genetic fingerprint" because each is different to the other and everyone, apart from identical twins, have different DNA patterns.
To extract DNA from a human is a simple process; it can be extracted from body tissue, such as the scraping of the inside of the mouth, or through blood.
DNA testing was first used in a criminal case in the United Kingdom in 1987. DNA evidence in courts has been widely accepted since then and is seen as a reliable source, due to the high accuracy of the results. However many people disagree to the use of DNA results. Many question the accuracy of DNA evidence, as only DNA segments are used in databases in contrast to the entire DNA strand. The possibility of DNA testing being inaccurate is very low, however, except in cases of identical twins who posses the exact genetic makeup. DNA testing is also very expensive, and the accused might not be able to afford a DNA expert to defend him or herself in court if DNA evidence is used against them, and if DNA experts are hired for them, there is a possibility of bias. Another downside to the use of DNA is the misuse of results. Victims with AIDS feel that they might be stigmatised if their DNA is stored in a national database and it could be used against them.
The prospect of a genetic database in Australia has been raised recently.