Last week I noted a highly controversial plan by the UK Border Agency to begin using DNA and isotope testing to help determine the geographical origins of refugees, for use in making decisions about whether or not to grant asylum.
A reader has just pointed me to this recent post on ScienceInsider indicating an apparent change in policy: the Border Agency has now stated that the trial will be “proof of concept” only, and that “no decisions on individual cases will be made using these techniques, and they will not be used for evidential purposes”. As ScienceInsider notes, this represents a pretty clear shift in language compared to earlier announcements.
Some of the furore around this policy was overstated (I agree with Razib’s comment that uncertain information can still be quite useful in the context of Bayesian assessments of the accuracy of an asylum seeker’s tale of woe), but the initial policy was still grossly premature. I welcome the Border Agency’s decision to take a step back and consider the implications before wading into the morass of genetic ancestry testing.