241576 DNA analysis for family reunification: Putting the concept of genetic citizenship into practice

Monday, October 31, 2011: 12:30 PM

Ursula Naue, PhD , Life Science Governance Research Platform, Department of Political Science, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Background: Since the 1990s, countries have begun to use DNA analysis in family reunification cases, and to resolve cases in which the information presented on family relations is considered incomplete, unsatisfactory or fraudulent. DNA analysis is understood as an effective instrument to control immigration, to prevent child-trafficking and to limit fraudulent family reunification. However, DNA analysis for immigration purposes also raises concerns, e.g. regarding the accuracy of these tests, protection of privacy and the family, data protection, questions of informed consent, the right not to know, and the principle of voluntariness.

Aim: The study is part of a project that aims at identifying and analyzing the social, political and ethical implications of DNA analysis for family reunification in three European countries – Austria, Finland, and Germany.

Methods: The study uses (a) interviews, and (b) an examination of relevant (policy) documents, literature, and media.

Results: The use of genetic information in immigration decisions and the proof of genetic ties in family reunification open up a new dimension in the discussion of “genetic citizenship” (Kerr 2003). DNA analysis for family reunification as the link between biology and citizenship entails several challenges (e.g. a broad definition of family members in laws).

Conclusion: Nowadays, immigration DNA analysis is a common practice in many countries. While the use of genetic technologies for immigration purposes in some Europe is a heated topic in political and media debates, it remains a non-issue in the scientific literature.

Learning Areas:
Basic medical science applied in public health
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
To compare different ways of implementing DNA analysis for family reunification in three European countries.

Keywords: Genetics, Access Immigration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PI on research project linked to presentation
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.