Is It Legal To Create Art From "Abandoned" DNA?

In the case of a recent exhibit displaying sculpture of people whose characteristics were determined by analyzing DNA found on cigarette butts and chewing gum, maybe not, according to New York state law.

What's the Latest Development?


Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg's latest project -- facial sculptures based on DNA data collected from abandoned cigarette butts, chewing gum, and other street trash -- has garnered attention from many different directions, including those who question the legality of her effort. Since 1996, the state of New York has had a law banning DNA testing without written consent. However, since she gathered her material literally from the street, Dewey-Hagborg couldn't obtain consent. Further clouding the issue is her argument that the project isn't violating anyone's privacy because the sculptures aren't exact facial duplicates.

What's the Big Idea?

The project highlights the new challenges faced in a world where DNA can be collected and analyzed with increasing ease. So far, US courts haven't required law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before collecting suspects' genetic information, but now that the average citizen can order tests on items carrying someone else's DNA, calls for revamped laws are growing louder. No less a body than the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has recommended an overhaul of genetic privacy legislation.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at New Scientist

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less