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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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U.K. Abandons Study of Nationality Testing Using DNA and Isotopes
17 June 2011 11:00 am
The U.K. Border Agency (UKBA) has completely abandoned its widely scorned investigation into DNA and isotope testing of human tissues as a means to verify the nationality claims of asylum seekers. The Times broke the news today, labeling the so-called Human Provenance Pilot Project an "expensive flop" (subs. required for story). UKBA reportedly spent £ 190,000 on the effort.
ScienceInsider first detailed the scientific criticisms of the little-known project in 2009. For example, geneticists pointed out that DNA testing might reveal a person's ancestry, but could never prove his or her nationality. UKBA quickly suspended the pilot project, but about a month later said that it would resume taking tissue samples from asylum seekers on a voluntary basis in order to test the usefulness of DNA testing and isotope analysis. UKBA also said that during the pilot project, any collected data would not be used in asylum decisions.
The agency now says the pilot project ended in March, and it doesn't anticipate publishing the collected data or any evaluation of the effort. "The UK Border Agency does not plan to take forward DNA/Isotope testing for country of origin identification purposes, consequently a decision was taken to suspend the internal review," according to a statement issued by a UKBA spokesperson.
Scientists say they aren't surprised to see the project killed. "Given that most population geneticists would have identified the problems very quickly, it is surprising that it ever got off the ground," Mark Thomas, a geneticist at University College London, told The Times.