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DNA Phenotyping Allowed in Bavaria

Law enforcement officials in Germany's Bavaria are now allowed to conduct DNA phenotyping and ancestry prediction on forensic DNA samples from a suspect deemed an imminent threat, Science writes.

As GenomeWeb's Turna Ray reported earlier this month, the Bavarian Parliament was considering a bill to expand the types of forensic analyses allowed from DNA fingerprinting and sex analysis to include wider analyses to predict a suspect's appearance. She added that the push for increased analyses efforts came in response to a 2016 murder in southwestern Germany for which an asylum seeker was convicted. As Science notes, this bill passed last week, and is only applicable to Bavaria, not the rest of Germany.

Ray added that the bill raised a number of concerns about discrimination. Critics worry that it could be used as a means to profile minorities, stigmatize minority groups, and inflame tensions between groups, while others say profiling could be used to rule out individuals from minority populations if the results point to someone from the majority population, she adds.

However, Science notes that the performance of DNA phenotyping tools can vary and that it is tricky to tease out, for instance, whether someone has ancestry from Northern Europe or from the Middle East.

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