You shed DNA everywhere you go – trace samples in the water, sand and air are enough to identify who you are, raising ethical questions about privacy

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Article written by Jenny Whilde, Jessica Alice Farrell, via on 15 May 2023

Typically, medical practitioners and researchers obtain human DNA through direct sampling, such as blood tests, swabs or biopsies.
We found human DNA everywhere but in the remote mountain tributary where the river starts, far from human habitation.
Our team dubs inadvertent retrieval of human DNA from environmental samples “human genetic bycatch.” We’re calling for deeper discussion about how to ethically handle human environmental DNA.
However, there are also myriad ethical implications relating to the inadvertent or deliberate collection and analysis of human genetic bycatch.
Should consent be required before taking human eDNA samples, and from whom?

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