Home DNA Tests


Rebecca Skloot at Culture Dish has been following hearings held by the U.S. Senate regarding at-home genetic testing kits. The conclusions of these hearings (based on a study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office) are pretty alarming regarding the reliability of these products.

Here are Skloot’s two recent blog entries on the topic:
Aug. 2: Totally Nailed: Home DNA Tests Ruled a Scam
July 25: At Home DNA Tests: Marketing Scam or Medical Breakthrough?

In her August 2 posting, Skloot writes:

Since this investigation was done by a committee with no actual enforcement power, the end result of all this is a recommendation to the federal government that they require oversight of DNA testing, and a warning to consumers saying “a healthy dose of skepticism may be the best prescription,” when dealing with these test results. May be? They’ve essentially been caught falsifying DNA results — I’d say that warrants more than potential skepticism. I’m thinking that’s grounds for full-fledged rejection. Good to keep in mind, since the companies are still operating in full force.

Here’s the Washington Times article Skloot cites:
‘Beware’ online DNA testing
According to the article:

DNA tests that consumers buy online to find out whether they carry genes for certain diseases are misleading, lack predictive value and can exploit the public by recommending pricey dietary supplements based on the test results, an official for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) told lawmakers….

For more resources on at-home genetic testing, see also Genethics.ca (Look under Topics >> Genetic Testing.)

Relevant Books:
Guiding Icarus: Merging Bioethics With Corporate Interests
Quality of Life and Human Difference: Genetic Testing, Health Care, and Disability
Genetic Testing: Care, Consent and Liability
Genetic Testing For Cancer: Psychological Approaches for Helping Patients and Families
More generally, see the books listed here: EthicsWeb Bookstore: Biotech Ethics

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