GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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America becoming genetic police state?




America becoming genetic police state? 

UPn 18.02.97 21:28 

Copyright 1997 United Press International. All rights reserved. 

The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of United Press International. 

By MICHAEL SMITH 

UPI Science News 

SEATTLE, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- California physician Paul Billings of Stanford University
says genetic discrimination is no longer a threat, it's a reality. 

At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
today (Tuesday) in Seattle, Billings cites a recent case of a 25-year veteran of the postal
service, who developed a rare type of genetic blindness. 

The man applied for and got disability benefits, Billings says, but they were later revoked
because the genes for the blindness were called a "pre-existing condition." 

Donald Power, a U.S. Navy enlisted man, says he was demoted and lost his classification
as a nuclear maintenance technician -- one of the Navy's most highly rated jobs --
after he refused to give a DNA sample. 

"I thought this was wrong," says Power, who follows North American native religious
practices. "This compulsory DNA requirement does violate the privacy of service
members and my right under the First Amendment to practice my beliefs." 

Power says he had given blood and urine samples previously, for HIV and other tests, but
saw the DNA sample as fundamentally different. The earlier samples "weren't taking my
self and putting it on the shelf and holding a part of me." 

Power lost his rank and job classification in April, and a discharge hearing set for
September was cancelled, after his lawyer applied for a waiver of the DNA sample
requirement under a rule requiring the Navy to accommodate sailors' religious beliefs. 

The Defense Department has collected more than 2 million DNA samples, Bereano says,
with the goal of being able to identify people killed in action. But Power says the Navy
has a very simple way to identify who's been killed aboard a ship: "I think you civilians
call it a roll call." 

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Copyright 1997 by United Press International 

All rights reserved 

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