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Biotech Science

Scientists Learn To Fabricate DNA Evidence 256

Posted by kdawson
from the tossing-a-bag-of-maryjane-in-the-back-seat dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that it is possible to fabricate blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor, and even to construct a sample of DNA to match someone's profile without obtaining any tissue from that person — if you have access to their DNA profile in a database. This undermines the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. 'You can just engineer a crime scene,' said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper. 'Any biology undergraduate could perform this.' The scientists fabricated DNA samples in two ways. One requires a real, if tiny, DNA sample, perhaps from a strand of hair or a drinking cup. They amplified the tiny sample into a large quantity of DNA using a standard technique called whole genome amplification. The other technique relies on DNA profiles, stored in law enforcement databases as a series of numbers and letters corresponding to variations at 13 spots in a person's genome. The scientists cloned tiny DNA snippets representing the common variants at each spot, creating a library of such snippets. To prepare a phony DNA sample matching any profile, they just mixed the proper snippets together. Tania Simoncelli, science adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union, says the findings were worrisome. 'DNA is a lot easier to plant at a crime scene than fingerprints,' says Simoncelli. 'We're creating a criminal justice system that is increasingly relying on this technology.'"
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Scientists Learn To Fabricate DNA Evidence

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  • by rekenner (849871) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:38AM (#29102153) Homepage
    Well, fuck.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:42AM (#29102177)

      Careful with that, you might leave an incriminating DNA sample.

      • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @06:41AM (#29103419) Homepage

        However complicated this may be it still means that the chain of evidence is important.

        And if a case rests only on DNA it's never a strong case because we all leave traces of ourselves all the time. The best DNA can do is to exclude you from a location, because if your DNA is nowhere to be found it's likely that you weren't there (or weren't wearing those pesky gloves).

        It is of course possible to frame someone by planting their faked DNA somewhere, but on the other hand there are other methods to do that too. A tazer and a syringe will allow you to get a good sample.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sumdumass (711423)

          I created a fictional story when in college in the 90's where the protagonist sought revenge on a cop by framing him with murder. This was around the time of the OJ trial and DNA was all over the TV because of the trial. The cliff notes version went something like this.

          The villian watched the officer and learned his personal habbits, then while on vacation, he broke into his home and stole hair from a comb/brush and sacked it into a plastic bag. He then waited for the flue season and rooted through the tras

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fluffeh (1273756)
      Yuppers, reading that just spoiled my afternoon. Thanks Slashdot for letting me know YET AGAIN that the PTB (Powers That Be) have yet again let me down and failed to stand/live up to my expectations.

      Well, fuck.

      Totally agree. Well, fuck.

      • Actually it just means it comes down to the integrity of the people involved for the most part. And as for planting dna evidence at a crime scene well damn you don't need much access to the person you are trying to frame in order to get enough DNA anyway.
      • by Nutria (679911)

        YET AGAIN that the PTB (Powers That Be) have yet again let me down and failed to stand/live up to my expectations.

        I'd be less worried about underfunded, overworked police than I would be by the criminal who wants to frame someone else. It would make a good episode of L&O:CI...

      • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:46AM (#29104851)

        Thanks Slashdot for letting me know YET AGAIN that the PTB (Powers That Be) have yet again let me down and failed to stand/live up to my expectations.

        Whom are you talking about? Given advances in bioengineering this was inevitable, sooner or later.

        I've seen some awfully realistic-looking faked videos [youtube.com] lately, too. Technology giveth, technology taketh away.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:01AM (#29102261)

      This doesn't change much, it's still much easier for "them" to frame you by drugging you and leaving you at the scene of a murder, then anonymously tipping the authorities off. Just like they did to OJ to try to prevent another "Naked Gun" from being made.

      ("They" may be completely evil, but you can't fault their sense of humor.)

    • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:15AM (#29102661)

      Actually it is worse than that!

      Here is why...

      With a fingerprint we have always had doubt because it could be planted.

      But with technology and DNA we are 100% sure! Well you get the idea, right? We trust technology so much that common sense goes out the window and hence if the beeping gadget on the floor says true, well then it must be true!

      This has always worried me...

      • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:37AM (#29102787) Journal

        Well, here in Germany, the police has searched quite some time for the "phantom of Heilbronn" - a women which apparently was involved with a lot of otherwise unrelated crimes at very different places. Well, after several years it turned out that the DNA was not from someone involved in the crime, but from someone involved in fabricating the cotton buds used to take the DNA probes.

        • by Yetihehe (971185) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @06:29AM (#29103367)
          Alibi for perfect crime: get a job in cotton bud factory.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Or in the factory that makes the detectors...

            Side Note: I wonder how hard it would be to insert underhanded or backdoor code into the software of these DNA analysis machines that, when matching with ~90% (or less) of your own DNA, they completely change the input in a predictable way. At least with fingerprints we can visually compare, how are we going to check DNA manually.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Martian_Kyo (1161137)

        yes...we have doubt about fingerprints NOW, but at a point in time people were 100% certain in fingerprint evidence. This a very logical procession of events. There will be nothing that will ever be 100% reliable.

        That's called progress.

        • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @06:54AM (#29103487) Journal

          Don't forget bullet matching [sfgate.com] which I'm sure there are plenty of poor bastards rotting in jail RIGHT NOW because some FBI guy got on the stand with a nice 3 piece suit and said "This test tells us with 100% certainty that the bullet found in the victim was from the box of ammo found in the suspects home".

          That is why I hope this story about DNA gets plastered all over the news. Juries just love any kind of gadget that takes out the guesswork and lets them just not think. And anyone who has had dealings with the cops for any length of time knows that crooked cops and prosecutors that care more about using cases as a stepping stone to higher office instead of justice aren't exactly rare. cases should be built on a preponderance of the evidence, not on some magic tech that solves the case instantly, which is what DNA has been, like bullet matching and fingerprints before it.

    • I agree, but it was only question of time. If you're (as human race) researching cloning it's logical that dna replication will be discovered along the way.
      It's like when tv was invented it was logical and very foreseeable that color tv's will exist at some point in time.

      Then again this will make crime series interesting again.
      CSI writers rejoice.

    • Well, fuck.

      I'm alarmed too. But this news is not entirely awful. It just means that DNA is no longer quite so useful in proving that a person is guilty. It is still perfectly useful in the much more important task of proving not guilty.

      • by pato101 (851725) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @05:22AM (#29102991) Journal
        Yeah, insightful, I agree. However, let me point that people are supposed to be not-guilty until demonstrated otherwise. Of course, in practice, having non-guilty evidences is very important.
      • by Kokuyo (549451) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @05:46AM (#29103109) Journal

        The important question is, how many innocents have been framed?

        I've always been sceptical about DNA proof. Not because I knew that samples could be manipulated like this but the unwavering belief that DNA traces at a crime sceen were indicative of involvement.

        Take this example: A man kills a woman. You happen upon the scene just as the murderer has left. The victim is in her death throes. Now I don't know about you people, but my first instinct would be to try and help. To do so, I'd have to get close and touch her. Now imagine her clawing at me. She is dying, after all.

        Now police finds you with a dead woman, your DNA under her fingernails, the knife used is lying mere feet away from you without any fingerprints or DNA traces.

        How do you talk your way out of this one? Nobody could prove that you were the murderer, but there are some damning clues there, wouldn't you say? That's what scares me about 'foolproof' CSI methods. For each one I could think of a scenario that would incriminate the wrong person. What I missed with DNA was a certain scepticism. People went "His DNA was on her? Well, he must be guilty then..."

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Z00L00K (682162)

          Another better case is the twin paradox - or just cases where you have a small population with a lot of inbreeding.

          In cases like these you may have to make sure that you get a better match than usual to point out or exclude someone.

        • by russotto (537200) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:06AM (#29105135) Journal

          You don't need a contrived example like yours. Prosecutors will make, and juries will believe, arguments based on DNA even when the supposed killer was married to the victim. How many times, on the news or on a show like Dateline (which interviews real prosecutors) have you seen a prosecutor claim, as if it was meaningful, "we found the suspect's DNA at the crime scene" when the crime scene was the house or car that the suspect and victim shared?

          Anything that makes DNA look more fallible in the eyes of juries is a good thing.

      • It just means that DNA is no longer quite so useful in proving that a person is guilty. It is still perfectly useful in the much more important task of proving not guilty.

        Huh? The principle is that you ONLY have to prove someone guilty. They're supposed to be innocent by default.

        • by LordKronos (470910) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @07:46AM (#29103737) Homepage

          you ONLY have to prove someone guilty

          No, that's not true. You START with the presumption of innocence. However, as the trial proceeds, the prosecution piles on more and more evidence. At some point during the trial, there may be enough evidence for the jury to remove all reasonable doubt from their mind and conclude that you did indeed commit the crime you are charged with. At this point in the trial, you are now guilty in their mind, and if you do nothing more, they will find you guilty. On the other hand, you can introduce evidence which creates reasonable doubt...or even better, proves your innocence.

          So, while it is not necessary to prove the defendant innocent, it is necessary to defend him/her against evidence which would otherwise suggest guilt. You know the old saying...the best defense is a good offense.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        How so ? Person A and B are suspected, both have the ability to produce fake DNA evidences and they hate each other. DNA from person A is found on a crime scene, what do you deduce ?

        It is still possible with this method to find no DNA from the culprit and many from the framed innocent.
      • by zx75 (304335)

        That doesn't make sense.
        1) In most situations (any that I can think of) you can't prove someone is not guilty simply because you cannot find a DNA sample from them at the crime scene.
        2) Now with the possibility of fabricating DNA evidence and planting it at the scene, you can't prove someone is not guilty due to DNA evidence being found from a different person.

        Please explain how you can prove someone is not guilty via DNA evidence either prior to, or after this discovery.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem is that DNA evidence has been showing problems for a while now. This is just the latest/greatest problem with it. It has been relied upon by law enforcement for a long time to "prove" something that law enforcement has known to not be true.

        Several states (Arizona for one) did searches against the FBI's national DNA database and found several "matches" from different people. By match I mean that those each of those different people could have been convicted in a trial where the original DNA was f

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        It doesn't matter. With shit on TV like CSI and Law & Order that wraps up a case in 47 minutes and treats DNA evidence/fingerprints like the holy grail, the average American is trained to think that DNA/fingerprints = 100% guilty.

    • Well, fuck.

      As a friend of someone who was wrongfully incarcerated based upon DNA evidence, I say:

      Well, fuck!!

  • I guess (Score:3, Funny)

    by LucidBeast (601749) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:43AM (#29102181)
    they have to rewrite next season of CSI because of this
  • by tacarat (696339)
    What sort of budget do they have to have to do this to you? How much will that go down in the next 5, 10 and 20 years? Hmm...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by meerling (1487879)
      You'd be surprised how much of this stuff can be done on the cheap if you know what you're doing.

      I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to do this stunt when you consider it's been some time since they've created a synthetic duplicate of the genomes in a microbe. (In theory, they could have recreated any microbe they had the complete genome stored for, more or less.) It's only a small conceptual step from doing that stuff to faking DNA evidence.

      Oh well, guess we know what surprise twist CSI will
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432)

        Couldn't the defense though just demand that they test something else? Like mitochondrial DNA? It might be slower but if your conviction hangs in the balance then they could splurge on proving it wasn't your DNA. You might come up as a false positive as a suspect but then actually be cleared anyway.

        That being said, just because your DNA was present doesn't mean you commited the crime. Especially in a murder trial. After all they could also obain your blood through other means and just directly plant r

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:01AM (#29102267)

      As a biochemistry grad student, I'd figure I'd need a month or so and could do it for less than $10,000 in materials not including a bit of a practice/training.

      Materials - it costs about $0.15/base for small DNA strands, or $1/base for longer (>150 base) if you order from one of many companies. Enzymes run ~$100/enzyme good for about 50 reactions. You'd need about 5 or 6 critical enzymes. The PCR machine could be had for $500, or you could go old school with water baths and a timer. I bet I could get decent results with about $5-10,000 (not including labor, which would take a bit of time).
      ï

      Once you've created a library of the 'snippets' it would be almost trivial to clone up large mixed populations with the right signatures. (Trivial meaning less than a week, and a few hundred dollars).

      As for price going down in the future - VERY fast. The tools to make/reshape DNA are still a bit arcane but have recently become both flexible and robust. There is an entire sector of private companies devoted to making DNA encoding & manipulation easier, faster and cheaper. Ordering 10,000-base strand now costs $1/base, but I would bet it pushes $0.10 within 5 years. Building it up from smaller (~100-bases) sequences is currently a bit of an art, but is not 'hard'. I would bet that that process will become much less arcane and therefore much more automated/programmable within the next 10 years to make that a matter of days of robot incubation rather than a month of grad-student labor.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dintech (998802)

        Oh dear. I can just imagine it on Craigslist:

        NEW PACKAGE for 2009! Contract hit + framing of your choice! Just $15,000!

      • by duguk (589689)

        I bet I could get decent results with about $5-10,000

        I can afford $5!!

        That's a widely ranged price there...

      • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:14AM (#29104485) Homepage Journal

        The really scary one to me is the possibility of mastermind criminals framing prior criminals whose DNA is on file. Imagine a bio-hacker pedophile who framed people on those handy state lists, leading the authorities directly to the very people they suspect most in the first place.

    • by will_die (586523)
      Everything is just a matter of time. After all Watson, Crick, Wilkins and Franklin got, or should of gotten, Nobel prizes for extracting DNA. Now you can do that at home. [sciencebuddies.org]
      The problem for this would be getting access to a database with the info, so it would probably be easier to punch the person in the nose to get a blood sample and duplicate the DNA from that.
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:52AM (#29102215)

    Company selling test to detect whether this has happened shows off a tech demonstration of why their product is necessary.

    • by wanax (46819)

      or, where the fuck are my lawyers? or to put into relevance for the rich dipshit that most likely first gets away first..are mine methylated or not? given the issue that the same line of DNA research is really promising (see fakery) there will be a window to turn this into law enforcement's best approach, and then it will fail like all the others.. when are we going to remember rational policy?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Damn, I thought you were joking. Then I read TFA and saw that you were right. Dude - you're psychic!
    • by Swampash (1131503)

      Or, to phrase it more efficiently, "kdawson".

    • And so? What's the problem? They have an interest in selling their test and have demonstrated that what it detects is possible and can be detected with the test. It's called proof of concept.

  • by Lloyd_Bryant (73136) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:55AM (#29102229)

    Ok folks, don't get yourselves in a tizzy over this.

    If you read the article (yeah, I know, it's against Slashdot rules, but give a try anyway) you'll see that all this hype originates from a company that has a product to detect faked DNA evidence, that they hope to sell to forensics labs.

    The simple fact is that if someone wants to plant your DNA at a crime scene, there are many possible ways for them to obtain *real* DNA to use for that purpose. They aren't going to go through the hassle of creating fake DNA...

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:46AM (#29102473)

      I was about to say that. If you want to frame someone, don't try to make sure you have an alibi while he doesn't. Collect his cigarette stubs, go through his comb and collect his hair, his chewing gums, his used condoms...

      If you're a rapist, a trash bin next to a sleazy motel can be your getouttajail card.

      All because we take DNA evidence as gospel. It's impossible to fail. Your DNA was there, so you were there. I don't even want to know how many innocent people are held behind bars (or worse, have been executed) based on planted DNA evidence.

      • by PinkyDead (862370)

        You seem to know an awful lot about this...

        Where exactly were you on the night of July 22nd?

        • According to the DNA I shed there in that night, at a friend's house. But everything he says about it is a complete lie!

      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:13AM (#29105261) Homepage Journal

        All because we take DNA evidence as gospel. It's impossible to fail. Your DNA was there, so you were there. I don't even want to know how many innocent people are held behind bars (or worse, have been executed) based on planted DNA evidence.

        Whats worse is people being executed on other planted evidence. Disgraced former Illinois Governor George Ryan stopped the death penalty here when DNA proved that half of the men on death row were actually innocent.

        A sword cuts both ways.

  • by hotdiggity (987032) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @02:58AM (#29102243)
    The scientists cloned tiny DNA snippets representing the common variants at each spot, creating a library of such snippets. To prepare a phony DNA sample matching any profile, they just mixed the proper snippets together.

    Really? It's that easy? God, I'm an idiot. After I cloned the tiny snippets of the common variants, creating my library, I just sat there staring at them and thinking "What the hell do I do now?"

    • by TheThiefMaster (992038) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:04AM (#29102283)

      It means that they didn't need to stitch them into one DNA chain, they "just mixed them".

      That's quite important.

    • by Rand310 (264407)

      It actually is that easy. You have a vial full of the snippets that you bought for ~$1/base pair if they're long, or much less if they're short. And you mix them. You don't have to even have the original person's DNA. You can send off an ascii text file full of A's, T's, G's, and C's to the right company and within a week have a vial on your desk with a relative shit-ton of DNA in it. Order enough of them, mix them into a spray bottle and spray around a room. Not too hard really. DNA is hardy - you do

      • by Pessimist+Cynic (1587497) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:22AM (#29102359)
        Hey, I just had the craziest idea.

        Convert any binary file to base 4 and then convert that to:
        0 = A, 1 = T, 2 = G, 3 = C
        Or something like that.

        And then order a vial of it from one of these companies.
        Now you can finally keep all the porn you want inside a tiny container much smaller than a hard drive.
        Kind of impractical to access it, granted, but still.
        Would it work, or would the "just mix it" part really mix it?
        (please reply quickly, I'm running out of hard drive space)
        • by Rand310 (264407)

          It would work, but you'd have to be able to divide it into 5000 bit strands, and be able to reassemble the data from thousands of 'mixed' strands. Also costs a lot... Current HD space is what, as low as $1/8,000,000,000 bits, current DNA sequencing costs about $1/bit for more than 100 bits in a row.

        • by dintech (998802)

          Now you can finally keep all the porn you want inside a tiny container much smaller than a hard drive.

          Ewww. You really should wash that out every once in a while...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mpe (36238)
          Hey, I just had the craziest idea.
          Convert any binary file to base 4 and then convert that to: 0 = A, 1 = T, 2 = G, 3 = C Or something like that.
          And then order a vial of it from one of these companies. Now you can finally keep all the porn you want inside a tiny container much smaller than a hard drive.


          If it were practical such storage devices would already exist. Probably as some sort of "cyborg computer". Would probably also have the entertainments industry frantically researching how to make an arti
        • by mrboyd (1211932) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @05:14AM (#29102947)
          You can already keep all the porn you want in DNA form. It's called a girlfriend*.


          * or boyfriend or whatever floats your boat (within legal limit of your country of residence)
      • by mpe (36238)
        You don't have to even have the original person's DNA.

        All you need is some which will give the right results when manipulated in a certain way. Indeed the majority of a person's DNA is likely to be irrelevent.

        DNA is hardy - you don't need any special stuff to keep it around, preserve, or maintain it.

        Especially when it's not inside a cell which also contains things passing microbes are likely to consider "food".
  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:17AM (#29102337)

    Whole genome replication [wikipedia.org] seems to mostly center around Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). PCR is an incredibly versitile technology. PCR machines cycle test tubes through specific temperatures, the thermal cyclers are cheap compared to a lot of lab equipment but still in the thousands of dollars. To do a PCR also requires some type of polymerase, nucleotides, some solutions, and short primer oligonucleotides. These are all items that aren't prohibitively expensive but aren't household items either.

    Maybe I'm being too ACLU/tinfoil hat, but I'm getting a sinking feeling that someone eventually is going to try to slap some regulations on PCR, or at some point in the future, having access to a thermal cycler and PCR materials is going to be seen by law enforcement as a reason to be suspicious of you. And I think that would be a real crime. I could see a future where thermal cyclers come down in price even more, maybe high school kids will start tinkering around with PCR as kids from yesteryear played with chemistry sets before we decided they could be used to make bombs and should be banned.

    Maybe not. Anyway, I think we should nip it in the bud if there's any hint that law enforcement starts thinking you need to have a good reason to manipulate DNA, just so they can keep their evidence unquestionably true.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AmiMoJo (196126)

      The technique has already been shown to be flawed. The only suspect charged with the Omagh bombing [wikipedia.org] has released after the trial collapsed because the DNA evidence has been amplified and was shown to have as much in common with his DNA as some random schoolboy living in England*.

      Like fingerprints, it turns out DNA evidence is not some kind of magic irrefutable proof. CSI doesn't mention it much but any evidence which has to be interpreted or go through some process to produce a result is never going to be 10

  • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @03:46AM (#29102471)

    1) Pass "homeland security" type law requiring people to register and submit DNA for national database.

    2) Keep an eye out for political dissidents.

    3) When they appear, have covert government agents commit crimes and plant "teh incontrovertible DNS evidence" of the dissident at the scene.

    4) Dissident is taken out of the picture in a way that looks completely legitimate.

    5) Bonus: Add extra brutality to their crimes to make the dissident (and by extension any of their ideas) less attractive to anyone else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by anarchyboy (720565)
      You go through all the trouble of collecting their DNA samples and then arrest them based on their domain lookups? seems a bit convoluted
      • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:14AM (#29102647)

        You're missing the point.

        By planting evidence in an actual crime, you don't have to arrest them under a controversial Orwellian law about "having the wrong books" or "looking at the wrong websites" where they become the new Leonard Peltier, Nelson Mandela, -- i.e. a political figure for people to wrap their cause around. They're just another rapist/murderer/bomber at that point. Nobody will want to be seen as a supporter of them because of being associated with a criminal, and the dissident will be written off as crackpot.

  • Maybe this can be interpreted as a sign that DNA technology is getting affordable and widespread the same way photo manipulation is now relatively easy with widespread access to image technologies like Photoshop. In the case of images, we can more easily fake them, but we also benefit from more advanced visual design around us.
  • I you are rich enough and have access to the right things you can frame someone for murder. What will they come up with next.
  • by Biotech9 (704202) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @04:14AM (#29102643) Homepage

    At the moment most (if not all) DNA profiling is done by examining STRs. STRs are specific spots in your DNA where a certain pattern of DNA is repeated a number of times. And the number of times it's repeated might be different for you from the STR at that spot from someone else.

    So if you check many of these spots, you can make it extremely unlikely that someone else has all of these spots with the same number of repeats as you do. In the US they check 13 loci [wikipedia.org]. And this fake DNA (the stuff they advertise as being possible to make just by looking in the database, with no original genetic material) is just a load of these loci, with the correct number of repeats in there.

    The reason it isn't much of a problem is that the technological bottlenecks that made the human genome project such a money pit are close to gone now. Taking a genetic sample and fully sequencing it shouldn't be that much of a problem in the next few years (I mean you can already do it [decodeme.com] for the price of a coat. To proof against fake evidence, many other SNPs or STRs can be checked instead, as a confirmation. Keeping a list of another 13 STRs to be used as confirmation would be a good start, having the loci known but not recording the results in databases to prevent this kind of counterfeiting.

  • As it's illegal in the US to argue over the accuracy of DNA evidence. Despite the flaws in traditional DNA profiling, and stuff like this, you are not actually allowed to point any of this out in court as part of your defence.
    • > As it's illegal in the US to argue over the accuracy of DNA evidence.

      This is false, as a Google search will quickly show. There are books on how to challenge DNA evidence, and laws firms that specialize in the subject.

  • DNA credibility (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nomad-9 (1423689)
    "This undermines the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. "
    It doesn't. The credibility still lies with the lab scientists themselves handling the DNA samples, as the infamous OJ Simpson case showed.
  • So, let's say that I am planning a big heist. How would I use this to foil investigations?

    Gedtting some DNA is the easiest part. Cigarette butts for example

    Now I need to somehow get access to Polymerase Chain Reaction chemicals and the primers used for crime investigation. How hard is that?

    Then I have to liberally spread the PCR product around at the crime scene.

    Or could I also use it afterwards when I am caught, by injecting myself with it, and putting it in my mouth, to taint any blood and saliva samples?

  • by joeyblades (785896) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @09:30AM (#29104685)

    Not fabricating DNA, but certainly fabricating DNA evidence .

One good reason why computers can do more work than people is that they never have to stop and answer the phone.

Working...