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DNA pioneer appeals for freethinking scientists

THE geneticist who discovered DNA fingerprinting says scientists must be allowed to conduct research driven by nothing but curiosity.

Alec Jeffreys realized 25 years ago Thursday that almost all humans have unique signatures of genetic material. The discovery has been used to solve thousands of crimes and to settle countless identity and paternity claims.

Jeffreys says he made his discovery by accident. He says "unfettered, fundamental, curiosity-driven" research is just as important as science aimed at solving specific problems.

Jeffreys also is critical of Britain's huge DNA database. It holds samples from everyone convicted of a major crime - but also thousands of people who have been acquitted. Jeffreys says the innocent should have their records removed.


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