Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why does Grandma feel wilted? Or, revisiting genetic paparazzi

Welcome to my mashup of two Inquisitr posts from Monday and Tuesday, linking an Israeli firm to the daughter (possibly) of Michael Jackson.

Back on August 18, I wrote a post entitled Why do DNA supporters feel jilted? Or, an examination of simple CpG methyltransferase treatments. Among other things, the post talked about Nucleix's claim that fabricated DNA could be planed at crime scenes. This has been discussed all over the place, in fact, Steven Hodson recently wrote an Inquisitr post on the topic.

One thing that Hodson didn't cover, however, was a potential second use for fabricated DNA. As I previously noted, there was a claim in the New York Times that these techniques could be used by "genetic paparazzi":

The planting of fabricated DNA evidence at a crime scene is only one implication of the findings. A potential invasion of personal privacy is another.

Using some of the same techniques, it may be possible to scavenge anyone’s DNA from a discarded drinking cup or cigarette butt and turn it into a saliva sample that could be submitted to a genetic testing company that measures ancestry or the risk of getting various diseases. Celebrities might have to fear “genetic paparazzi,” said Gail H. Javitt of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Now I'll admit that when the story broke, I concentrate on the crime scene fabrication aspects, rather than the genetic paparazzi angle. I mean, you can certainly find out things by going through Bob Dylan's trash or whatever, but who (other than an insurance company or a boyfriend) is going to care what a genetic test will reveal?

But then I heard a story about a grandma who was entertaining her granddaughter. So grandma took her granddaughter out for a haircut, and then one of grandma's friends swept up all of the granddaughter's hair and took it away. I guess that saves the hair salon the need to clean up, but another Inquisitr piece (this one by Kim LaCapria) links to some speculation from the Daily Mail that there was another reason for Grandma (in this case Katherine Jackson) to retrieve the hair of her granddaughter (in this case Paris Jackson):

It's not uncommon for parents to mark their child's first haircut by keeping a lock in memory of the occasion.

But when Paris Jackson, 11, finally went for the chop, every strand was swept up, placed into plastic bags and handed to her minder.

It is thought the bizarre move was planned as a precaution against potential hair thieves, who could use the sample to carry out DNA tests.

The results would put an end to rife speculation as to the true identity of Paris's real father.

The Inquisitr's LaCapria refers to a comment (from John Essex) to the Daily Mail article:

This was not necessarily done for DNA purposes, we are all aware you need the root for DNA so unless the hairdresser tugged at a particular hair strand, the hair is worthless, or is it ?

But wait a minute - even if you don't get the root of the hair, is it possible to get enough DNA to do the deed the Nucleix claims can be done - namely, using and building up that minimal DNA to sufficient quantities to submit to a lab for testing?

And who knows what would be turned up by such a test:

Hey, I tried to get the more famous shot of Macaulay Culkin - the Edvard Munch-y "Home Alone" shot - but it wasn't commercially available. And anyway, Culkin was young in that picture, and we certainly can't imagine that Michael Jackson would associate fatherhood with underage boys.
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