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Petition Filed Against Nationality Testing by the United Kingdom
30 September 2009 12:58 pm
A petition aiming to stop the U.K. Border Agency's controversial Human Provenance Pilot Program has been filed with the U.K. government, according to a comment on the original ScienceInsider story. If the petition is approved for posting and there are enough online signatures, the government is obligated to file a response.
The Genomics Law Report blog discusses why the Border Agency project will "echo beyond the U.K.'s borders."
Several isotope specialists, including one from a private isotope analysis firm, have also added their opinions on the topic in comments to the original story. For example, Paul F. Dennis, head of Stable Isotope and Noble Gas Laboratories at the University of East Anglia, writes:
May I add my criticism of this to those of Jane Evans, Tamsin O'Connell and Jessica Pearson. Isotope studies of keratin based human material (nails and hair) will only give broad information relating to the recent past movements (say 1 to 2 years) of an individual and no information with respect to nationality. I know of no study, published or unpublished, that shows isotopes are useful in determining a persons place of birth or nationality.
Whilst I can see the need, in certain cases, to identify the nationality and migration patterns of individuals and groups of people using isotope techniques (e.g. criminal and archaeological forensics) I consider their use as a border control tool to be not based on sound scientific reasoning and unethical.
I can also state that my laboratory is not involved in this work, and any approach from the UK agencies, or contracted groups will receive a very curt, but polite NO in answer.