On September 10th 1984, Alec Jeffreys, a scientist at Leicester University, was using DNA in an experiment to analyse the inheritance element in illness. DNA is the molecule that carries our genetic information. Looking at an X-ray showing the DNA profiles of his assistant and her parents, he suddenly realised that he had, completely by accident, discovered a revolutionary new method of biological identification. He called it “Genetic Fingerprinting”.
The importance of the discovery was recognised immediately by both the UK police and immigration authorities. The technique is now used in forensic science to assist police detective work and to resolve paternity and immigration disputes. It has also helped convict thousands of murderers, rapists and burglars while freeing many innocent people already in prison.
Genetic fingerprinting also has a promising future in the battle against disease. Scientists are storing genetic information of people in a “biobank”, in the world’s largest study of the role of nature and nurture in health and disease.
Many of the worst illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, are caused by complex interactions between genes, lifestyle and environment. However, it does have a negative side. Many people are worried that the discovery could badly affect our civil liberties. Jeffreys fears possible abuses of the system. He wants a global DNA database but without any information on race, health or physical appearance. As the technique becomes more sophisticated, all this information and more will be available.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
1.- Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE? Copy the evidence from the text. No marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE.
- a) Genetic fingerprinting was the intended result of thorough research.
- FALSE: ... he suddenly realised that he had, completely by accident, discovered a revolutionary new method of biological identification. He called it “Genetic Fingerprinting”.
- b) British institutions didn’t take long to realise the relevance of the new discovery.
2.- In your own words and based on the ideas in the text, answer the following questions. Do not copy from the text.
- a) How does genetic fingerprinting help the police in their work?
- It can resolve problems of identification.
- b) What are the possible consequences of the incorrect use of the new discovery?
II. USE OF ENGLISH3.- Find the words in the text that mean:
- a) right away (paragraph 2): immediately
- b) keeping (paragraph 3): storing
- c) concerned (paragraph 4): worried
- d) at hand (paragraph 4): available
4.- Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate form of the word in brackets when given.
- a) He was arrested (arrest) last year, accused of committing (commit) an awful crime.
- b) If the police had had (have) all this information before, the investigation would have been (be) much easier for them.
- c) Although the method was good, it was necessary to improve its technique.
- d) To get better (good) results than in previous years, governments must provide the necessary funds for investigation.
5.- Write about 100 to 150 words on the following topic.
Which do you think is the most revolutionary invention for mankind? Explain why.