May 19, 2010
Incoming freshmen at UC-Berkeley will be asked to provide more than SAT scores and transcripts with their applications. The welcome package will also have a cotton swab and 2 bar code stickers, and students will be asked to voluntarily submit a DNA sample. Supposedly the DNA will be tested for three genes, showing the student’s ability to tolerate alcohol and metabolize folic acid and lactose. Results will be placed in a confidential database and used to help students make decisions about their diet and lifestyle. Previously students had been asked to read a couple books related to behavior and lifestyle.
According to Mark Schlissel, Dean of the Division of Biological Sciences:
“This type of experience is one of the true, unique values of a Berkeley education. We don’t just give you books to read. We involve you in cutting edge issues in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. You won’t see this anywhere else in higher education.”
Not everyone is pleased about having the DNA test, nor about having their DNA information placed in a database. Questions certainly arise about confidentiality, as well as what other information may be gleaned or whether any DNA is stored for future testing.