Patt Morrison for June 1, 2010

UC Berkeley asks students for more than SAT scores – DNA

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William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

UC Berkeley sent cotton swabs to students asking them to take a saliva sample and then send it back. But why?

When you think of a Freshman entering college you probably think of trips to IKEA and learning where the mess hall is, but do you think of DNA? You will now. UC Berkeley is asking 5,500 new and transfer students to volunteer some of their DNA to be tested for reactions to lactose, folic acid and alcohol and they think that about 1,000 will respond. There is no penalty for students that choose not to “return-swab-to-sender,” but privacy advocates remain troubled that students will feel pressured to hand over their cells, because, well, everybody else is doing it.


Dean Mark Schlissel, dean of the Biological Sciences Department at UC Berkeley

Jesse Reynolds, Director of the Project on Biotechnology in the Public Interest at the Center for Genetics and Society

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