DNA testing has certainly revolutionized two areas. Forensic DNA testing is a prominent fixture in today’s criminal justice system, while DNA paternity testing is the new standard for deciding child support cases. So, DNA testing is certainly part of the lifestyles of the poor and infamous. But the rich and famous are not going to be left out. Welcome to the world of celebrity DNA testing.
Celebrity DNA testing in the news during 2005 included a story about Oprah Winfrey. Oprah announced while speaking in Johannesburg that her DNA had been tested and on the basis of the results, she believed she was Zulu. Representatives of the Zulu nation quickly discounted her claim, stating that Zulu natives were never taken as slaves to North America, and that Oprah was more likely of West African origin.
In another celebrity DNA testing case, Prince Albert underwent a DNA paternity test to find out if he was the father to a boy born to a former air hostess with whom he had a relationship.
Anna Nicole Smith’s baby, born in 2006, has been claimed by her attorney. It appears that the matter won’t be complete settled without DNA paternity testing to confirm the claims.
British athlete Colin Jackson has undergone ancestry DNA testing in an attempt to find out more about his roots. He knew his parents were Jamaican, but DNA testing provided a more complete breakdown, allowing him to untangle his past to a greater extent.
Celebrity DNA testing sometimes involves more than ancestral curiosity or paternity confirmation. In a case involving Nicole Kidman, a court ordered celebrity photographer Jamie Fawcett to provide DNA samples to police. The DNA samples were to be testing against DNA found on electronic bugging devices allegedly planted by Fawcett in Kidman’s Sydney home.
Another side of celebrity DNA testing is the collection and sale of celebrity DNA samples. Internet sites like Celebrity Skin and Bodily Fluids offer skin cells (and other discards) from a variety of celebrities in film, television, music and literature.
In a slightly classier use of DNA, Discover magazine reported several years ago on a company working to create a new line of jewelry–amulets containing bits of genetic code from any human being, including celebrities and historical figures. Recent searches have come up empty on Stargene, the company purportedly working on this concept, but the market may be there.
Taking a sample of someone’s DNA for analysis without their consent became illegal in the UK in September of 2006. Actually, the major push for this new law came not from collecting celebrity DNA, but rather the high rate of secret collection of DNA samples for DNA paternity testing.