In a strange, and somewhat unsettling, want to welcome Freshman and transfer students — while also, it seems, starting their own private human genome database of admitted genius thinkers — UC Berkeley is requiring the collection of DNA samples.
Why is Berkeley doing this?
What is the advantage in their outrageous genetic end game?
The Center for Genetics and Society have forcefully come out to publicly thwack Berkeley for becoming the new Big Brother of the intellectual elite:
“Catalyzing discussion and debate about the future of genetic technology is a wonderful idea,” said CGS Associate Executive Director Marcy Darnovsky, PhD. “But this is the wrong way to do it. This project could fuel common misperceptions about the importance of genetic information, and sets a bad precedent about the way genetic tests should be used. In effect, it puts the university’s seal of approval on products that have not been – and may never be – approved by federal regulators.”
The project is part of UC Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences “On the Same Page” program, which asks incoming freshmen and transfer students to read the same book or view the same movie. This year, it will instead send out cheek-swab kits so that students can collect and return a DNA sample. It will also sponsor a contest in which entrants can win further DNA testing from direct-to-consumer genetic testing company 23andMe. Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development Jasper Rine, who is playing a lead role in the project, is a co-founder of several biotech companies including VitaPath Genetics, a genetic testing start-up company.
We are quite familiar with 23andMe and Sergey Brin — and this bizarre Berkeley initiative can’t do any good for Google’s already self-admitted Panopticonic tracking and quantifying of captured WiFi data streams while their mapping cars tool around the streets of the world.
The Berkeley DNA program must be ended before data collection begins. Do not make opting in or opting out an option. Peer pressure is too great for some students to resist and most amateur learners just want to fit in and not stand out in what should have been a sit-in protest against lifting the nascent veil of privacy afforded most college students instead of a public effort to designed, by default, to rip asunder the Berkeley Freshman.