Background to the Study

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which holds the genetic information of living creatures, is a well-known molecular biomarker. DNA sequencing is a technique for deciphering an individual’s genetic code; this has led to breakthroughs in areas as diverse as the study of genetic diseases and disorders, paternity testing, forensics, and even the possibility of recreating the genomes of extinct species.

The fields of forensic science and DNA testing have been revolutionized by the discoveries made in the laboratory during the past several decades. The use of DNA testing has grown in importance in the criminal justice system in recent years. DNA testing has many practical applications and important social advantages, but it also brings up important ethical questions. This literature review aims to examine the social and moral implications of DNA testing.

This study seeks to offer a comprehensive overview of the different ethical difficulties raised by the use of DNA testing by examining the literature on the subject and pointing out the positive and negative effects of this technology. The Moral Imperatives of Genomic Analysis Significant improvements to the criminal justice system have resulted from the use of DNA testing in forensic investigations. The technology’s precision and dependability have been crucial in solving cold cases, clearing innocent people’s names, and clearing up criminal investigations.

However, there are also ethical concerns associated with DNA testing. False accusations may lead to jail time for innocent people. DNA testing can be useful in solving crimes, but it is not 100% reliable. Wrongful convictions are possible due to flaws in the evidence gathering, storage, and processing processes. DNA-based false convictions are notoriously difficult to reverse, as pointed out by Bernard et al. (2019), and can have far-reaching emotional, social, and financial ramifications for the wrongfully convicted.

The right to privacy is another moral problem area in DNA testing. Concerns about the use of personal information are heightened when DNA evidence is collected, stored, and analyzed. DNA databases are becoming more and more widely used, which poses a serious privacy danger. DNA databases are crucial to forensic science; they have helped solve many cases, including some that had little hope of being solved by more conventional means (Frederick, 2019). Access to and use of personal data, however, is a serious cause for worry in light of the databases. Unchecked, this data might be used to unfairly target those whose conviction rates are greater, violating their right to privacy in the process.

The potential for genetic discrimination is a third moral problem with DNA testing. Insurance companies, employers, and others could utilize the results of genetic testing to exclude people from coverage or advancement opportunities because of their predisposition to a disease or condition. In order to prevent discrimination based on a person’s genetic makeup, the government passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) in 2008 (Javitt et al., 2017). This lack of protection raises serious ethical concerns for society since it leaves people vulnerable to genetic discrimination on the part of other businesses and individuals.

Social Consequences DNA testing and analysis have made important contributions to the judicial system. DNA evidence has been crucial in clearing the names of innocent people, finding missing people, and cracking cold cases. It’s also been important in bringing murderers, robbers, and other violent criminals to justice. However, there have also been some negative effects of DNA technology use. Trust in law enforcement has dropped due to concerns about being wrongfully accused, having personal information misused, and facing prejudice based on one’s genetic makeup. Individuals may be wary of genetic testing because of the hazards linked to the improper use of genetic data.

Empirical Review

According to research published in 2021 in JAMA Network Open (Hong et al., 2021) genetic testing can aid in the identification of hereditary cardiovascular diseases, leading to earlier diagnosis and therapies. While some direct-to-consumer genetic tests were found to be reliable, others had high false positive rates, according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine that looked at the accuracy of such tests in identifying variants associated with breast cancer risk. DNA testing has several potential medical uses, such as in diagnosing and treating genetic illnesses, in pharmacogenomics, and in tracing one’s family tree (Tan et al., 2020). Furthermore, a 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology assessed the utility of genetic testing in identifying those at risk for kidney disease, and the authors concluded that having access to genetic information enhanced both diagnosis and treatment.


In sum, the development of DNA testing has greatly improved the reliability and precision of forensic science. DNA testing has been essential in criminological investigations, yielding insights into previously unsolvable crimes. It is crucial to recognize and address any ethical problems related to its usage, however, as its use continues to spread. Society may improve DNA testing’s usefulness and integrity while protecting individuals’ rights and privacy if it addresses these problems with appropriate legislation, rules, and safeguards.

It’s evident that the ethical implications of DNA testing and its societal influence are intricate and multidimensional. The possibility for false convictions, invasions of privacy, and genetic prejudice are only some of the ethical concerns brought up by the advent of DNA technology in the criminal justice system. The solutions to these moral problems will need to strike a balance between the rights to privacy and the prevention of discrimination in the use of DNA databases. The good and negative effects of DNA testing on society are substantial.


Freedman, A. N., et al. (2021). Direct-to-consumer genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility: risk perceptions and false-positive results. Journal of Personalized Medicine, 11(4), 290.

Groopman, E. E., et al. (2019). Diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of genetic kidney diseases. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 30(10), 1953-1964.

Hong, E. H., et al. (2021). Utility of genetic testing among patients with cardiovascular disease. JAMA Network Open, 4(5), e2111292. Tan, T. Y., et al. (2020). Clinical applications of DNA testing. Genetics in Medicine, 22(12), 2105-2115.

Bernard, D.N., Cooper, C.L., Demaske, M., Rodriguez, J. & Stern, S. (2019). Examining wrongful convictions in the era of forensic evidence: new techniques and technologies. Annual Review of Criminology, 2, 469-490. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-criminol-032317-092609

Frederick, J.E. (2019). DNA databases in forensic investigations: legal and ethical considerations. Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 6(1), 80-97. https://doi.org/10.1093/jlb/lst057

Javitt, G., Hudson, K., Lauer, M.S., Roberts, J.S., & Turnbull, C. (2017). Genetic discrimination and health insurance: an urgent need for reform. Science Translational Medicine, 9(397), eaag1167. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1167.