Should Genetic Trophy Hunting Be Outlawed?

And what about testing residues from your spouse's underwear without his or her permission? The latter falls under the rubric of "infidelity testing" as a new article in the New Scientist explains. Last month, in my column "Exposing Obama's Genome," I looked at how celebrity genetic testing might occur and what, if anything, should be done about it. I concluded that, for the most part, such genetic trophy hunting, while mildly titillating for some fans, is unlikely to be a big deal.

But what if a celebrity, or for that matter your spouse, objects to surreptitious genetic testing? Britain outlawed such sneaky testing back in 2006. There is no federal law against such testing, but some states do prohibit it. For example, New York state makes it illegal to perform genetic tests or disclose results without the consent of the person being tested. However, as the New Scientist reports:

Test Infidelity [a company located in Chatsworth, Calif.] is just one of dozens of US companies offering to test DNA taken without the knowledge of the people concerned. Many firms advertise infidelity testing services or offer "discreet" paternity tests. These allow a man to determine whether he is the father of a child without letting anyone else know what he is up to, or a woman to tell whether a man is the father of her child without involving him in the process.

While the total number of stealthy DNA tests being conducted is unclear, interviews with genetic testing companies indicate that thousands are being run each year in the US alone.

Paternity testing can tear otherwise stable families apart. But the good news is that recent data suggests that 98 percent of the time the children that men are rearing are their genetic offspring. On the other hand, 30 percent of men who seek out paternity testing find out that they are right to be suspicious. 

I suspect that the push to ban stealthy paternity testing will disappear as genetic testing of all newborns becomes widespread and routine. 

The New Scientist article focuses on paternity testing because it clearly does have the potential to disrupt families. As for infidelity testing, it doesn't seem much different than hiring a detective to uncover a spouse's trysts. Evidently, the sources quoted by the New Scientist couldn't think of any great harm that would come from testing the DNA of celebrities. So should genetic trophy hunting be outlawed? After all, a breakfast half-eaten by Obama--touted as having "His DNA is on the silverware."-- was sold on eBay for 99 cents last spring. My guess is that fan-testing of celebrity DNA will become just another minor irritation, like paparazzis, that come with fame. 

Note: Although I am pretty much the opposite of a celebrity, anyone who wants to test the random DNA I shed as I go about my life is free to do so. 

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  • Naga Sadow||

    Thats good Ron. No sense worrying over you being a replicant.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Here.

    I suck at links . . . (sigh)

  • sage||

    My guess is that fan-testing of celebrity DNA will become just another minor irritation, like paparazzis, that come with fame.

    Guess again. I'm the one that got that great deal on His DNA, and my clone of the president is coming along nicely.

  • OO===D||

    Have at it.

  • sage||

    BTW, does anyone know where I can get the DNA of Scarlett Johansson?

  • ||

    sage: I have no problem with someone cloning me either.

  • ||

    They should do some tests and figure out who is this kid's father.

  • ||

    Bans on genetic engineering will gradually fade too as people realize you can already do selective breeding with artificial insemination and other fertility aids. People already pick sperm donors with the genetic characteristics they want, before long they will be testing embryos and selecting one for sex or health. This will get more common as people have kids later in life more often.

  • Kolohe||

    BTW, does anyone know where I can get the DNA of Scarlett Johansson?

    The Island?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Epi,

    That link goes to Dvdbeaver. WTF?

  • ||

    Are these the droids you're looking for?

  • Syd||

    But the good news is that recent data suggests that 98 percent of the time the children that men are rearing are their genetic offspring.

    I assume that doesn't count adopted fathers.

    At one point, the figure was 90%, but I don't think that was a scientific survey. Maybe people are being honest, or there just isn't as much pressure for a woman to find a husband when she gets pregnant.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Et tu, Pro Lib? What is up with the Dvdbeaver posts?

  • ||

    Is the DVDbeaver.com homepage the new rickroll?

  • ||

    That link goes to Dvdbeaver. WTF?

    I works for me. WTF? I will try and remedy this.

    And yes, DVDbeaver.com is the new rickroll. God, what an ugly front page.

  • ||

    Huh. Well, when I first clicked on Episiarch's link, I didn't get the picture. So I linked to the picture of the Hitler clone kid from The Boys from Brazil. I am otherwise unfamiliar with this DVDbeaver of which you speak. Sounds strangely obscene.

  • Kolohe||

    Bailey's disclaimer reminds me of something alluded to in the Edge.org article linked earlier this week.

    The presence of ubitiquous cameras in the public sphere a la 1984 is now technically feasible - in fact, rather trivially easy. The only thing slowly down their implementation is the social resistence caused by everyone being consiously aware of Orwell's novel.

    I would think in a few decades it won't be all that difficult to gather all the DNA in any and all public spaces and build a database from this collection. However, I do not see the same intuitive opposition emerging to this the way it did for CCTV. The current status of (american) law makes this perfectly legal as well (for intance, as far as know, agents of the state can root around anyone's garbage can wily nilly)

  • ||

    It's something with their site. Try this.

  • ||

    Really? You don't find it troublesome that someone could take your DNA, have it tested, and then leak that you have the genetic propensity for (insert nasty disease here). . . ?

  • Naga Sadow||

    Oooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Cloned Hitlers. Got it.

    Pro Lib,

    Sounds strangely obscene? Doesn't have to be if your looking for beaver . . . dvd that is.

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    I decided to run The Wizard of Oz version of the Darth Hillary demotivator series. Since it was your idea, I thought I should tell you.

  • ||

    Very nice, ProL. Now do the "Existential Blues" version.

    "In fact, he said, I'd rather have this bottle in front of me...than...A FRONTAL LOBOTOMY!"

    "How profound, wizard."

  • ||

    People already pick sperm donors with the genetic characteristics they want, ...

    Isn't this process called dating?

  • Abdul||

    Future episodes of Maury Povitch will get a lot more interesting.

  • Jeff P||

    I have been offering to give free genetic samples to many ladies in my neighborhood for years, but no takers.

    Julio my hair-stylist on the other hand...

  • ||

    So let me get this straight... As it is, there's a 98% chance that I'm the father of my wife's daughter. But if get a paternity test, the odds of her being my daughter drop to 70%? I mean, the statistics bear that out, right? Crazy...

  • Naga Sadow||

    Jeff P,

    If we're talking neighboHOod chicks this is what you do. Walk down the street with friend of yours that is at least 4 inches taller than you and outweighs you by about 50 pounds. Crack him in the back of the head with a lead pipe and start screaming at him that "I told you! I told you!". Go into hiding for a few days. Women will flock to you after you reappear in your neighborhood.

  • ||

    ClubMedSux,

    It's a self-selection bias. Those men who think they need a paternity test bad enough to actually get one are more likely than the general population to have a wife/mother of child who has been lying to them (or confused about paternity.)

  • Jeff P||

    I do not avoid women, Naga, but I do deny them my escence...

  • ||

    testing residues from your spouse's underwear

    Just, ewww.

  • ||

    This thread need no longer continue. Jeff P has said all that needs to be said.

  • ed||

    I'm pretty sure I shed some DNA in my sleep last night.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    Note: Although I am pretty much the opposite of a celebrity, anyone who wants to test the random DNA I shed as I go about my life is free to do so.



    Some of us would have frankly preferred it if you didn't shed quite so much in the first place.

    (I keed, I keed!)

  • Jeff P||

    Genetic sampling party at Pro Libertate's place!
    I'll bring tissue.

  • ||

    Sugarfree- I guess I need to be a little more obvious when I make fun of our society's general inability to understand/apply statistics...

  • ||

    Sorry, my genetic samples are all being used to breed another successor.

  • ||

    ClubMedSux,

    "60% of the time, it works everytime."

  • sage||

    Sorry, my genetic samples are all being used to breed another successor.

    Enjoy that while you can. Soon women won't even need us to breed. They'll simply be able to take their own DNA and inject it into one of their eggs, creating an exact copy containing only the mother's traits. I refer to this as masturbation taken to its logical conclusion.

  • The Taliban™||

    They'll simply be able to take their own DNA and inject it into one of their eggs

    See? This is what happens when you educate them.

  • ||

    "for intance, as far as know, agents of the state can root around anyone's garbage can wily nilly)"

    depends on the state. in WA state, under an independent ground reading of our state constitution, which mentions an explicit right to privacy, state (county, city) cannot do so.

    under the federal constitution, it is permissible (no right to "privacy", but a prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures).

  • kinnath||

    CMS: take a random sample of a very large population and you see that 98% of the kids were fathered by their father.

    For a very much smaller population (families with father who doubt the kids are his) only 70% of the time the kids are his.

    Got it?

  • ||

    I think a dude has a right to know if he's raising a cuckoo; how much family angst is derived from that doubt?

    And sage, isn't mating with yourself the ultimate, not in masturbation, but incest?

  • ||

    "Soon women won't even need us to breed. They'll simply be able to take their own DNA and inject it into one of their eggs, creating an exact copy containing only the mother's traits."

    the delicious irony will be telling the copies that they are "just like their mother"

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    May not still be true, but in Californicate if you are married to the woman when the kid is born, it's yours to pay child support for. Whether it is your genetic child or not.

    And, Dude, if you find suspicious substances in your girl's undies, you don't need a test lab to tell you the answer you already know.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    In fact, he said, I'd rather have this bottle in front of me...than...A FRONTAL LOBOTOMY!



    That's pre-frontal.......and it was Tom Waits

  • sage||

    And sage, isn't mating with yourself the ultimate, not in masturbation, but incest?

    No. A child born of incest has a mother and father. No such luck here.

  • ..||

    A child born of incest has a mother and father

    What about the child born of anal intercourse?

  • Shadow of the Past||

    Paternity testing can tear otherwise stable families apart.

    Maybe mommy should have thought of that before she spread her legs for the Orkin man.

  • Kolohe||

    dunphy-
    thanks

    Gil Grissom, you have failed me for the last time...

  • sage||

    What about the child born of anal intercourse?

    You trying to trace your family tree or something?

  • ||

    Slightly drunk
    Gelnmorangie
    good shit

    but here's a basic rule
    If a science is prefixed by the word genetic
    its good!

    Don't get me wrong I hate the American left as much as the next man

    But man I fuckin Hate Conservatives

    what is with that whole anti-Darwinist shit

  • ||

    Genetic engineering rocks
    There's not a huge difference between rubber
    (the shit that grows on trees)
    and the polymers, derived from hydrocarbons, that make up the majority of human materials consumption
    We should be working towards some baass genetic engineering shit

    There's a fucking unholy alliance between christian fundamentalists and gaybo lefties
    (who are probably the children of the same bible bashing fuckwits)

  • ||

    Genetic engineering rocks more than Australians
    which is saying something
    Australians are probably the greatest group of people on the planet!
    Aussies wrote the song "down under"

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNT7uZf7lew

    and they are down under

    technically

  • ||

    So any way
    Brief Summary

    My Misus is gonna get back from work in an hour and I need to sober up

    Australians rock

    one more great tune from the land of OZ

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=10BbpGKLXqk

    The left are fucking horrible

    nearly as horrible as the right

    and GM feking rocks

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