Berkeley's Conservative Voice

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clueless Bill Alert

As you might have heard, UC Berkeley recently began offering incoming freshmen a chance to have their DNA analysed as part of the On the Same Page program. Opposition began to spring up almost immediately, generating headlines on Drudge and Fox News among other national outlets. This prompted Assemblyman Chris Norby, a Republican (unfortunately) from Orange County to introduce AB 70, which would ban CSUs from requesting (key word) genetic information from students and ask the UC regents to follow suit.

Unfortunately, this bill and other opposition to the On the Same page program is based entirely on fear mongering. True, it would be a serious problem if any university required its students to send a gene sample before enrolling. But this program is completely voluntary - students are not penalized in any way if they decline to participate. In fact, the results are barcoded so that no one except the student will know the identity of their test results or even whether they decided to participate.

The other main scare tactic has been that insurance companies and others with an interest in finding out about a student's genetic makeup may offer to buy the data. As mentioned earlier though, even if the university were evil enough to want to make a buck or two off of its student's DNA, it couldn't. Unless insurance companies are interested in samples from completely annonymous individuals.

To the contrary, there are definate upsides for students that decide to participate. They will get a chance to examine their own DNA and may be able to spot risk factors that could help them avoid problems down the road. It's almost worth being a freshman to participate.

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