Korean J Leg Med.  2015 Nov;39(4):93-98. 10.7580/kjlm.2015.39.4.93.

Genetic Testing for Additional Evidence during Investigations: Focus in Ethics

  • 1Department of Forensic Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. sdlee@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Forensic Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3School of Law, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Since the introduction of genetic fingerprinting 30 years ago, there has been considerable development in the field of forensic genetics. A cautious approach is emphasized when using human genetic evidence in order to protect individual rights and because of its distinctiveness. Nevertheless, conventional ethical guidelines may no longer be suitable for handling information derived from genetic material. Moreover, projected innovations to maximize such systems' usage have raised previously debated ethical concerns. Recent and on-going research on the use of genetic evidence obtained from crime scenes to estimate physical appearance, ancestry, and/or personal traits is expected to provide additional investigative resources, especially for cases involving unknown identity. Given the special nature of genetic components, ethical issues need to be seriously considered and addressed when conducting research involving human genetic material. However, such ethical parameters may shift with scientific advancements. Moreover, because ethics reflects social consensus, various perspectives must be obtained and discussed. This paper introduces multiple perspectives on using genetic material as additional evidence for police investigations and indicates scope for the discussion of prospective ethical concerns.


DNA fingerprinting; Identification; Investigative techniques; Phenotype; Ethics

MeSH Terms

DNA Fingerprinting
Forensic Genetics
Genetic Testing*
Human Rights
Investigative Techniques
Prospective Studies

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