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Ethical Issues in DNA Identification of Human Biological Material from Mass Disasters

  • Luciana Caenazzo (a1), Pamela Tozzo (a1) and Daniele Rodriguez (a1)

Each mass disaster has its own characteristics and will involve a different approach, so the safeguarding and collection of forensic evidence have to be considered as part of the field response procedure. DNA typing has played a more prominent role in the identification of human remains, and particularly so for highly decomposed and fragmented remains. Although the ultimate goal is to obtain the identification, the specific context of each application of human identity testing has its specific problems, ranging from technical approach, through statistical interpretation, to ethical issues. The preparedness plan of the forensic genetics laboratory needs to include policies for family notification, long-term sample storage, and data archiving. For this reason, DNA sample collection and a strategy for DNA-based victim identification needs to be part of the preparedness plan. In this paper, the authors seek to define three of these ethical aspects: (1) the humanitarian importance of identification; (2) resource allocation in the victims’ DNA identification; and (3) the secondary use for research of the samples initially collected for identification purposes. DNA analysis for the purpose of identifying victims of mass disasters has complex implications that demand much more rigorous examination than they have received until now.

CaenazzoL, TozzoP, RodriguezD. Ethical Issues in DNA Identification of Human Biological Material from Mass Disasters. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(4):1-4.

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Luciana Caenazzo, PhD Department of Molecular Medicine, Legal Medicine Unit University of Padua Via Falloppio, 50 35121 Padova, Italy E-mail
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
  • ISSN: 1049-023X
  • EISSN: 1945-1938
  • URL: /core/journals/prehospital-and-disaster-medicine
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