The term “beyond a shadow of a doubt” became a bit more confusing this week when Dan Frumkin and his team of Israeli forensic specialists reported that DNA evidence can be fabricated and planted at crime scenes.
Frumkin wrote in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics that DNA evidence is key to the conviction or exoneration of suspects of various types of crime, from theft to rape and murder.
But he and his colleagues cautioned that the disturbing possibility that DNA evidence can be faked has been overlooked.
Any undergrad with basic lab equipment and a bit of know-how can crank out “practically unlimited amounts” of artificial DNA, which can then be used to salt a real crime scene with someone else’s genetic profile, said Frumkin.
Does this mean that anguish and worry fill the offices of criminal prosecutors around the globe and in jails and prisons everywhere cheers and joy fill the cellblocks.
Well, maybe not.
According to papers in the UK and U.S., forensic specialists question whether the falsification is as easy as Frumkin claims.
The Daily Mail in London cited British experts who said that while the science was possible, it was highly unlikely any criminal would go to such lengths.
Dr. Gill Tully, of the British government-funded Forensic Science Service, told the newspaper: ‘’You would need a full molecular biology lab, thousands of pounds worth of equipment and a fully competent molecular biology scientist or technician.’’
Frumkin’s company, perhaps not coincidentally, sells a kit that he insists can distinguish real DNA samples from fake ones.