We are in the midst of a consumer DNA ‘testing frenzy’

2-13-2019 unnamed file
Image credit: KC Adviento

By the start of 2019, more than 26 million consumers had added their DNA to four leading commercial ancestry and health databases, according to our estimates. If the pace continues, the gene troves could hold data on the genetic makeup of more than 100 million people within 24 months.

The testing frenzy is creating two superpowers—Ancestry of Lehi, Utah, and 23andMe of Mountain View, California. These privately held companies now have the world’s largest collections of human DNA.

For consumers, the tests—which cost as little as $59—offer entertainment, clues to ancestry, and a chance of discovering family secrets, such as siblings you didn’t know about. But the consequences for privacy go well beyond that. As these databases grow, they have made it possible to trace the relationships between nearly all Americans, including those who never purchased a test.

Related article:  Scientist chases cure for her rare brain disorder using 'clear genetic blueprint'

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“First rule of data: once you hand it over, you lose control of it. You have no idea how the terms of service will change for your ‘recreational’ DNA sample,” tweeted Elizabeth Joh, a law professor at the University of California, Davis.

Read full, original post: More than 26 million people have taken an at-home ancestry test

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