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Report: Scientists Encourage Military To Map Genome Of All Personell

Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post has a story that seems right out of the future:

new report from a secretive, highly influential group of scientists is urging the Department of Defense to begin collecting and mapping the full genome of all military personnel -- a move that could well give the Pentagon the ability to select for certain genetic predispositions.

Noting the dramatic decrease in the cost of fully mapping individuals' genomes, the report suggests that some traits relevant to war-fighting "are likely to have a strong genetic component, for which better understanding may lead to improved military capabilities."

In short, the scientists say the military could benefit from knowing which soldiers performed better in cases of "sleep deprivation, dehydration, or prolonged exposure to heat, cold, or high altitude, or the susceptibility to traumatic bone fracture, prolonged bleeding, or slow wound healing."

The group of scientists Froomkin refers to are know as the Jasons. He talks to Pentagon officials, who put the report and the scientists in context:

"The Jasons are one of many inputs that we take in, trying to get a variety of thoughts and ideas that are not all necessarily mainstream," said Melissa Flagg, the director for technical intelligence in the Pentagon's research and engineering department. "We don't want to be hostage to groupthink.

"But it doesn't necessarily mean that, just because a group of smart people thought it, that it is the future or will happen."

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.