The news is in the science magazine Nature (thanks to reader James for sending it).
And, why are they getting desperate? Being registered as an asylum seeker under the age of 18 is a ticket to the good times in Europe and in the US! The great flood of “unaccompanied minors” across the world, many of whom are grown men claiming to be teens, is one of the greatest scams being perpetrated on ‘welcoming’ countries such as Germany.
But horrible murder cases, where the victim is a German woman (young or old!), has caused the heretofore complacent Germans to get out of their comfort zones and into the streets.
Here is a bit of what Nature says:
European scientists seek ‘epigenetic clock’ to determine age of refugees
When local authorities in Hildesheim, Germany, didn’t believe an asylum seeker who claimed to be under 18 years old — and thus eligible for privileged treatment — police turned to a blood-based age test sold by a California company.
The test, offered by Zymo Research in Irvine, uses chemical modifications to DNA that accrue over a lifetime, called an ‘epigenetic clock’, to determine a person’s age. Forensic scientists — aware of its potential benefits but also of its current lack of precision — sounded an alarm.
In a paper published online1 in May, a team led by forensic-medicine specialist Stefanie Ritz-Timme of the University of Dusseldorf in Germany said that these tests were not ready for use in sensitive forensic evaluations.
But now, in the charged political atmosphere that has accompanied the arrival of millions of refugees to Europe, forensic scientists across the continent are joining forces to improve epigenetic-clock-based tests — with a focus on whether they might be used to help determine the age of refugees whose claims to be under 18 are disputed.
They hope that, with time, such tests could replace existing methods, which assess the maturity of bones or teeth to determine an individual’s age but are imprecise, and can be controversial.
“The race is now on to develop a more accurate clock that would be more predictive than the anatomical tests — and also more practical for use in forensic science,” says cell biologist Wolfgang Wagner at the University of Aachen, Germany. He has teamed up with other German forensic scientists to overcome these challenges, not only for the test’s use on refugees, but also for other forensic uses.
A call for sensitivity (really!)
The development of scientific methods that could feed into decisions about who is granted asylum and how refugees are treated are likely to elicit criticism, says Denise Syndercombe-Court, a forensic geneticist at King’s College London. She says that some scientists, herself included, are wary of these efforts.
But Niels Morling, a forensic geneticist at the University of Copenhagen who is running a national epigenetic-clock programme, defends the development of tests that are more accurate. Given that the law treats those under 18 very differently from adults, he says, then “you have a duty to make sure that it can be implemented fairly”.
Since 2014, Europe has received around 4 million refugees, many of whom arrived without identity documents. More than 1.5 million refugees have sought asylum in Germany, around one-third of whom are registered as minors. In Europe, minor status usually leads to better care and an increased chance of being granted asylum. Minors also have a higher chance than adults of gaining permission for family members to join them. And, if convicted of a crime, people under 18 usually receive shorter sentences — served in special prisons for juveniles.
Much more here.
I sure do hope we are using this test in America!
Go here for my complete ‘Invasion of Europe’ files.