DNA True or rubbish

#1
Gents I came across this 'Statement' on the Old Holborn web site. the subject is DNA, is it correct ?

So what's the big deal? Most of the comments in support of the database include 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' and 'DNA is complicated so it can't be used to fit people up', both of which are rubbish and the latter statement especially so.

I can set up a DNA replication lab, within my existing lab, for around £5000. I've used the technology before because it has applications in bacterial identification and it's really not difficult to use. I wouldn't need as much gear to copy DNA as I would for a bacterial analysis because I don't need to sequence the sample after I've made it. With a little sample of your DNA I can make many copies and strew them around crime scenes. I don't even have to know the sequence of your DNA to do this. With the help of accomplices I could leave evidence that will show that you committed five crimes simultaneously in three different UK cities while you were on holiday in Australia. Who will the court believe? You or the DNA? You really want to risk it? It's DNA remember. You can't argue with DNA.

If I was a Government funded lab set up to dispose of awkward people, I could assemble a copy of your DNA without ever seeing a sample. I could do it from the sequence on the database. We need never meet. This technology is not new, it's not something out of science fiction, it's been around for quite a few years now. All those GM crops - how do you think they constructed the genes to splice into the plants? All those bacteria modified to produce antibiotics - how did they do that?

There is equipment in research labs all over the place that can assemble a specific DNA strand from bottles of chemicals. It's automated. You give it the sequence and go home, and it's made the DNA in the morning. This equipment is not new. I watched one of these things in action five years ago (it was used for perfectly benign purposes in actual research) and it's an impressive piece of machinery.

DNA is made of four chemicals. Four. The order of these chemicals in the strand is what determines the action of genes, but there are only four chemicals involved. Almost all the machinery used to handle DNA has now been automated to the extent that you could train a badger to use it. Maybe even an MP. Replicating, sequencing and assembling DNA isn't the subject of research these days. It's an established research tool.

Getting a copy of your DNA made is no problem at all. A sample would work, but you don't even need a sample if you have the sequence written down. You don't need to copy the entire human genome, just enough to match the entry in the database. Piece, as they say, of piss.

Criminal gangs can easily afford to do all this and they can easily find someone far more expert than me in this subject who has a degree and no job and who is desperate and open to offers. The cost is nothing compared to the money going through drug barons or people traffickers' hands. All they need do is to watch train seats for USB sticks and they'll have that database. Fancy having a gang come after you because some Saudi millionaire needs a heart transplant, and you're a match? Or maybe your liver matches a Russian yacht-owner who's overdone the vodka while partying with an unelected leader of some country or other. It's not just governments disposing of dissidents you need to be concerned with. This government will - definitely - lose the database as they have with all the others. Then it's open season on your kidneys.

Nothing to hide?

john
 
#3
Self replication is what DNA does, so making copies is no big deal. As a supplement to conventional evidence I think it is great, as prime evidence, crap.
 
#4
jonwilly said:
Gents I came across this 'Statement' on the Old Holborn web site. the subject is DNA, is it correct ?
The author blogs here: http://leg-iron.livejournal.com/

I can set up a DNA replication lab, within my existing lab, for around £5000. I've used the technology before because it has applications in bacterial identification and it's really not difficult to use. I wouldn't need as much gear to copy DNA as I would for a bacterial analysis because I don't need to sequence the sample after I've made it. With a little sample of your DNA I can make many copies and strew them around crime scenes. I don't even have to know the sequence of your DNA to do this. With the help of accomplices I could leave evidence that will show that you committed five crimes simultaneously in three different UK cities while you were on holiday in Australia. Who will the court believe? You or the DNA? You really want to risk it? It's DNA remember. You can't argue with DNA.
True.

If I was a Government funded lab set up to dispose of awkward people, I could assemble a copy of your DNA without ever seeing a sample. I could do it from the sequence on the database. We need never meet. This technology is not new, it's not something out of science fiction, it's been around for quite a few years now. All those GM crops - how do you think they constructed the genes to splice into the plants? All those bacteria modified to produce antibiotics - how did they do that?
Not exactly true - to produce your DNA, all you need is the sequence. But the database does not contain a full sequence of your DNA. Remember the huge "Human Genome Programme"? To sequence a single person would take an appreciable portion of that effort. The matching done in DNA comparison testing looks at small portions of the DNA that are known to differ widely between people (a tutorial here if you are interested.) He could probably assemble enough to fit you up.

There is equipment in research labs all over the place that can assemble a specific DNA ... You don't need to copy the entire human genome, just enough to match the entry in the database. Piece, as they say, of piss.
All true, including the bits left out for brevity.

Criminal gangs can easily afford to do all this and they can easily find someone far more expert than me in this subject who has a degree and no job and who is desperate and open to offers. The cost is nothing compared to the money going through drug barons or people traffickers' hands. All they need do is to watch train seats for USB sticks and they'll have that database. Fancy having a gang come after you because some Saudi millionaire needs a heart transplant, and you're a match? Or maybe your liver matches a Russian yacht-owner who's overdone the vodka while partying with an unelected leader of some country or other. It's not just governments disposing of dissidents you need to be concerned with. This government will - definitely - lose the database as they have with all the others. Then it's open season on your kidneys.
Speculation (after the first sentence which is incontrovertably true). And you don't need to lose the database, all you need to do is to bribe somebody with legitimate access! However, I'm not sure that a match on the largely junk DNA (it differs mostly because it isn't used for anything we are aware of) equals a tissue match suitable for transplant.
 
#5
Idrach said:
jonwilly said:
I can set up a DNA replication lab, within my existing lab, for around £5000. I've used the technology before because it has applications in bacterial identification and it's really not difficult to use. I wouldn't need as much gear to copy DNA as I would for a bacterial analysis because I don't need to sequence the sample after I've made it. With a little sample of your DNA I can make many copies and strew them around crime scenes. I don't even have to know the sequence of your DNA to do this. With the help of accomplices I could leave evidence that will show that you committed five crimes simultaneously in three different UK cities while you were on holiday in Australia. Who will the court believe? You or the DNA? You really want to risk it? It's DNA remember. You can't argue with DNA.
True.
Not fully true. When making this DNA, what will it be disguised as? Will he be able to replicate a strand of hair, a flake of skin, a drop of blood? If not, then how will these itinerant pieces of DNA manifest themselves to those carrying out the investigation?
 
#6
Joe_Private said:
Not fully true. When making this DNA, what will it be disguised as? Will he be able to replicate a strand of hair, a flake of skin, a drop of blood? If not, then how will these itinerant pieces of DNA manifest themselves to those carrying out the investigation?
As arbitrary, indistinguishable and invisible drops of chemical-containing solvent contaminating genuine debris around the crime scene. CSI isn't 'true', it's closer to 'pravda'.
 
#7
I knew OJ was innocent all this time, it ws a fit up.

All doable.

On another note.

CSI is make believe. We had one over a lorry after it had been hijacked a few years back. Driver was able to tell us no gloves worn by the balaclava lot who scooped it. The lorry had multiple drivers as a jobbing vehicle. Lorry was chased by Police and hijackers bailed out without a chance of cleaning anything. Driver in vehicle during entire hi-jack. Was piggin inside and hadn't been cleaned for a year at least. Not one finger print from anyone, driver, helper, hi-jacker. After a years worth of greasy sausage roll dipped fingers from drivers and helpers in that vehicle not a single finger print.

I laugh in the face of uncontravertable evidence and wave my hand at you in a dismissive way while uttering the single syllable "Bah!". That'll be my defense when they come for me.
 
#8
Idrach said:
Joe_Private said:
Not fully true. When making this DNA, what will it be disguised as? Will he be able to replicate a strand of hair, a flake of skin, a drop of blood? If not, then how will these itinerant pieces of DNA manifest themselves to those carrying out the investigation?
As arbitrary, indistinguishable and invisible drops of chemical-containing solvent contaminating genuine debris around the crime scene. CSI isn't 'true', it's closer to 'pravda'.
So, where would these invisible drops of genuine debris have come from? Does a trail of discarded DNA follow us like water vapour from an aeroplane? There must be some piece of human detritus, a fingernail, an eyelash, some earwax, something tangible. Imagine the prosecutor asking "How do you account for a test-tube containing some solvent, in which was a 35-point match for your DNA, being found at the scene?"

FFS, this would be very poor circumstantial evidence, and any good defence agent would be able to convince a reasonably intelligent jury of the innocence of their client. Unfortunately, many lawyers are not that clever, and most jurors are thicker than pigshit.
 
#9
Joe_Private said:
So, where would these invisible drops of genuine debris have come from? Does a trail of discarded DNA follow us like water vapour from an aeroplane? .
I believe it's minute traces of skin cells that get left on an object when your skin touches it ot wipes across it. We are talking cells here.

The crime scene tech just gets a q-tip (cotton bud) and wipes the surface which collects whatever is there... they then multiply it.

Isn't the process called low-copy DNA?
wiki page explaining the 'low copy' dna technique

As to a 'plane like DNA vapour trial following us', well as must household dust is human skin that's died and fallen off us as we move around, I think the answer to your query is yes as all human material carries our dna.
 
#12
DNA could not be created purely from the database. It is extremely complex and requires a university level lab to do it. Copying is easier, although criminal gans would probably find cheaper ways of going about things. The article is pretty much complete b*llocks to be honest, once you've got past the idea that DNA can be copied 'easily'.
 
#13
DNA is useful but not infalable.
DNA is often not conclusive, not because its impossible but because of the evidence is used.
In any cases it is simply not narrowed down enough to be conclusive evidence of somebodies guilt, how often do you see DNA evidence presented as a one in X many probability of it being person Y? If DNA evidence says that there is a 1 in 10 million probability of it being the person in the dock responeible what that also means is that statistically the profile could match another 6 people or so in the country.

DNA is generally presented as a cast iron tool for conviction, it isn't.
 

Fronty

Old-Salt
Book Reviewer
#14
The possibility of a DNA fragment matching another is, if memory serves, about 1 in a million, so there is a chance (ok, a slim one) that someone _could_ have a match wrongly made if all of the population were on a database.

More worringly is the news recently that people have actually managed to "forge" a DNA match. From what I can remember, you would only need to work out which fragments are needed to get a match and make them, which is going to be far less effort than making a whole strand. I'll have to read up on it a bit more to find out more details.

But, and this really does require a tinfoil hat, if you have the whole of the population on a database, then is no reason why you could not forge the markers for a specific person (see paragraph 1) and fit them up fr something if you had the time and the money.

DNA evidence should be used as another mens of proof that someone done it, rather than the only proof.
 
#15
Maninthestreet said:
I'm reminded of this case where the same DNA turned up at 40 crime scenes.

May be of interest.
Definately of interest, at least over here. German police and public prosecutors were hunting this female killer for months. They were gob smacked that one person could be all over the place and no one had ever seen her. She was even involved in the spectacular murder of a police officer, who was shot at point blank whilst sat in her patrol car. That is until the truth came out, thousands of hours of investigation down the tubes. Happyness all round. DNA, wunnerful innit?
 
#16
The best that DNA sequencing can produce is a '1 in a billion' chance that there is someone else who has the same DNA as the suspect. That's one of only five other people ON THE PLANET!

The reason for this is that, unlike fingerprints, there are people who will have identical DNA, identical twins for example. However, even identical twins will have different fingerprints. Never, in the history of fingerprinting, have 2 prints been found to match from different subjects. That's why fingerprints are considered a more conclusive form of identification than DNA.
 
#17
The part about recreating someones DNA from a database is very misleading. Even with a university level lab they would only create the DNA molecule itself. Another major property of DNA is it's specific folding around molecules called histones, without which DNA is easily identifiable as non functional. Also, DNA doesn't just exist freely. You would need to create a convincing medium for it to be found in. This would probably mean genome replacement of a cell and culturing of that cell. All in all it's an extremely difficult process (Above degree level anyway) which would likely be 'easy' to identify as fake.
The point about Russian oil billionaires is null aswell. It would be almost as easy for them to just test random people in a pub from their pint glasses untill they got a match. It's not like the labour cost is prohibitive.
 
#18
whosthedaddy said:
The best that DNA sequencing can produce is a '1 in a billion' chance that there is someone else who has the same DNA as the suspect. That's one of only five other people ON THE PLANET!

The reason for this is that, unlike fingerprints, there are people who will have identical DNA, identical twins for example. However, even identical twins will have different fingerprints. Never, in the history of fingerprinting, have 2 prints been found to match from different subjects. That's why fingerprints are considered a more conclusive form of identification than DNA.
The probability of a DNA match depends on the number of markers which are used to identify it. In most cases, the probability is many times less than the best case, and there could be hundreds of people who would match. Due to its very nature, DNA has familial links; due to the nature of people, many do not move far from their place of origin; add these together, and it is likely that many of those who would match would live in reasonably close proximity to each other.

As I alluded to earlier, lawyers and juries often cannot grasp the concept of probability correctly, and can be easily led astray by people they regard as experts. The cases of Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, who were all convicted on the flawed evidence of "Cot Death Expert" (but not statistician) Professor Sir Roy Meadow demonstrate this amply.

Furthermore, fingerprinting, though useful is fallible. Ask Shirley McKie.
 
#19
Joe_Private said:
whosthedaddy said:
The best that DNA sequencing can produce is a '1 in a billion' chance that there is someone else who has the same DNA as the suspect. That's one of only five other people ON THE PLANET!

The reason for this is that, unlike fingerprints, there are people who will have identical DNA, identical twins for example. However, even identical twins will have different fingerprints. Never, in the history of fingerprinting, have 2 prints been found to match from different subjects. That's why fingerprints are considered a more conclusive form of identification than DNA.
The probability of a DNA match depends on the number of markers which are used to identify it. In most cases, the probability is many times less than the best case, and there could be hundreds of people who would match. Due to its very nature, DNA has familial links; due to the nature of people, many do not move far from their place of origin; add these together, and it is likely that many of those who would match would live in reasonably close proximity to each other.

As I alluded to earlier, lawyers and juries often cannot grasp the concept of probability correctly, and can be easily led astray by people they regard as experts. The cases of Sally Clark, Angela Cannings and Donna Anthony, who were all convicted on the flawed evidence of "Cot Death Expert" (but not statistician) Professor Sir Roy Meadow demonstrate this amply.

Furthermore, fingerprinting, though useful is fallible. Ask Shirley McKie.
Totally agree. Juries are only being allowed to hear what the Police want them to hear. The CPS are also being led a stray and coerced by the Government.

With the Governments hard line approach for their own ends can only show who is pulling the strings.

The Government has a great deal to gain from using the "Hard line" approach. The can gain high value donor participation from wealthy middle and rich class members from society.

If DNA can be "spread around" as members here have hi-lighted then I suggest that people should think very carefully where DNA can be obtained covertly. Next time there is a clamp down on xmas drinkers and you are pulled over for a spot check, then just maybe you will wonder WHERE that tube from the portable breath analyzer is going to end up. After all you have given this sample WITHOUT you being arrested, unless of course you refuse.
 
#20
The flaw in your idea is that if the government really wanted to fit you up, all they would need to do is send an agent to follow you to a pub/bar and take a swab from any glass you left behind. No database needed.
 

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