A recent issue of NG&S included an exchange between Hill (2011) and Turney (2011) discussing an earlier paper on the use of DNA identification in the Australian bush fires disaster of 2009 (Turney, 2010). An editor’s introduction to the exchange solicited further observations on the issues raised by the two participants (Glasner, 2011). What follows is a response to that solicitation. It has been written jointly by individuals from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds (including forensic genetics, forensic anthropology, sociology, bioethics, and science & technology studies) located within two research centres (the Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science (NCUFS); the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre at Newcastle University (PEALS)). We currently collaborate on a range of research topics including the uses of the life sciences for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) . Some of us have worked as scientists commissioned by the UK Government and other agencies in response to particular disasters; others of us have an interest in the formation of policy and in the uses of science and technology as they affect a range of social goods including health, justice and security.