Scientists have now shown DNA evidence can be fabricated. The surprising news is from a study published by Israeli scientists in the journal FSI: Genetics. See photos, video and read more about the new development.
DNA evidence which sometimes makes headlines when it is instrumental for either conviction or exoneration criminal cases, is somewhat of an irrefutable gold standard, in the public imagination.
Now The New York Times reports that scientists in Israel were able to fabricate blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. The report is published online in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics.
Additionally, they were able to show that when they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they were able to construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without using the tissue from that person.
Naturally, this begs the question., if DNA evidence can be fabricated, how easy or difficult is this to do? The lead scientist in the study, said Dan Frumkin, gives a sobering answer.
“You can just engineer a crime scene. Any biology undergraduate could perform this.”
The New York Times notes that Dr. Frumkin is a founder of Nucleix, a Tel Aviv, Israel based company which has developed a test to distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones with the intention of selling the test to forensics laboratories.
Additionally this raises obvious concerns, as potential DNA fabricators could use anyone’s DNA in their work, as Tania Simoncelli, science adviser to the American Civil Liberties Union notes:
“DNA is a lot easier to plant at a crime scene than fingerprints. We’re creating a criminal justice system that is increasingly relying on this technology.”
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen offered an assessment of the possible implications.
This is potentially huge news in the world of criminal justice, which hasn’t yet even fully had the time to embrace DNA for all of its uses. And I suspect it won’t be long before defense attorneys are using this study to undercut DNA analysis and conclusions in cases all over the country.”
That is all that is known right now about this surprising development and its implications, that DNA evidence can be fabricated. Check back for updates. See photos and video below.