domingo, 28 de agosto de 2016

BioEdge: Kuwait becomes first country to demand universal DNA tests

BioEdge: Kuwait becomes first country to demand universal DNA tests


Kuwait becomes first country to demand universal DNA tests

Every country in the world examines your passport before you enter. Kuwait is about to become the first to examine your DNA. All citizens, visitors and expatriates will have to provide DNA samples for a government database.

The ostensible motivation for the Gattaca-like measure is greater security in times of terrorism. But it also gives the government a way to exclude about 10% of Kuwaitis from citizenship and expensive social benefits.

According to the Kuwaiti constitution, citizens must be able to prove that they or their forebears have lived in Kuwait since 1920. If this is strictly applied, about 10% of the Kuwaiti population are not citizens. They are Bidoons–Arabs who didn’t apply for, or didn’t qualify for Kuwaiti citizenship after independence from Britain in 1961. (The name comes from the Arabic words bidoon jinsiya, “without nationality”.) There are an estimated 100,000 of them in Kuwait.

Life for the bidoons is tough. The government regards them as stateless people. As non-citizens their access to social services, including education and health, is limited. The government is even negotiating with Comoros, an impoverished island nation in the Indian Ocean, to grant the bidoons citizenship – which would allow the government to deport them.

According to a report in Fusion, “Essentially, the law will allow the government to restrict access to citizenship based on verifiable bloodlines, while punishing those who skirted the system to get citizenship. The benefits that come with citizenship would be stripped.”

“I think that we reserve the word ‘draconian’ for instances such as this one,” Wafa Ben Hassine, a Tunisia-based legal expert and former Electronic Frontier Foundation fellow, told Fusion. “They went from violating the right to privacy to violating a human being’s right to an education and healthcare.”

“The intention is extraordinarily troubling, but on top of that, it’s important to call into question the science they claim underlies it,” Dr. Debra Mathews, of the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, said. “I’m pretty convinced that they can’t do what they say they can do. You can’t look at someone’s DNA and tell definitively whether they are a member of an ethnic group.”

The United Nations Human Rights Commission issued a stinging report earlier this month about Kuwait’s treatment of the bidoons and its plans for a DNA database. This “imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the right to privacy,” it declared.
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I must be getting old. For most of my life, I have been reading about the global need to curb births and the unmet demand for contraception. And then I opened this week’s edition of The Economist and discovered that the main problem facing couples is the unmet demand for children.
The Economist surveyed 19 countries, asking people how many children they wanted and how many they expected to have. The results were astonishing.
“For more and more couples, the greatest source of anguish is that they have fewer children than they want, or none at all. … In every rich country we surveyed, couples expect to be less fertile than they would like, and many in developing countries suffer the same sorrow….
“The pain of having no or fewer children than you desire is often extreme. It can cause depression and in poor countries can be a social catastrophe. Couples impoverish themselves pursuing ineffective treatments; women who are thought to be barren are divorced, ostracised or worse.”
I hope that executives at Marie Stopes International (see article below), the United Nations Population Fund and all the other global agencies dedicated to shrinking family sizes read The Economist’s advice:
"Governments and aid agencies have turned family planning into a wholly one-sided campaign, dedicated to minimising teenage pregnancies and unwanted births; it has come to mean family restriction. Instead, family planning ought to mean helping people to have as many, or as few, children as they want."

Michael Cook

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Regulators cite concerns about governance and safety

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Duke University law professor Nita Farahany says that head transplants would not pass the consent test

by Xavier Symons | Aug 25, 2016
Does it lead to “bigoted, discriminatory medicine”?

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Where is the evidence for sexual orientation and gender identity?
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