Fears of seeing their children fall behind their peers have left Chinese parents searching for anything to give them a leg up.
Some are now turning to genetic testing companies that claim they can find children’s hidden talents within their DNA. There isn’t much scientific basis to the tests, but judging from the number of clinics sprouting up in cities like Shenzhen, it appears that “talent testing” is one reason for China’s fast-growing genetics industry.
I visited the office of China Bioengineering Technology Group (also called CBT Gene) on the 14th floor of a high-rise in Shenzhen’s Nanshan startup district.
The day I visited, an agent produced a thick book listing over 200 indicators the clinic will test a child for. They include potential hereditary conditions; musical, mathematical, and reading abilities; physical talents; attributes like shyness, introversion, extroversion, and memory.
In fact, there’s relatively little basis for assessing a kid’s “mathematical talent” on the basis of DNA, as reports from CBT Gene do. Nor did China invent this scientifically dubious industry. In the US, companies such as Orig3n offer “child development” tests for genes lined to language, math, and perfect pitch.
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