Those startups that analyse your DNA are bogus, tell your friends

With so many new startups promising to accurately analyse your DNA, researchers are finding that they’re promising results no-one can deliver.

 

 

The human genome consists of an extraordinary amount of unique sequences that tell one’s cells how to operate. In theory, you should be able to derive much of a human’s personality, appearance and biological makeup, and potentially what the future holds for them.

DNA startups like Genomelink and GenePlaza promise to bring more meaningful insights than more traditional DNA testing kits, such as those provided by Ancestry and 23andMe.

How accurate are they though? Dan Robitzski of Futurism wrote of a college student named Mary who went down the rabbit hole of commercial genomics.

After receiving her DNA analysis breakdown from Ancestry, she endeavoured to find out further information woven into her genes, turning to genomic startup Genomelink.

The results she received from Genomelink were less than impressive. She dubbed them “wildly inaccurate”; Genomelink’s test returned results that claimed she was “less easily depressed”, but Mary had been diagnosed with clinical depression at a young age.

Genomelink also claimed she had a nut allergy according to her genetic code, yet Mary told Futurism that “peanut butter is one of the true loves of my life”.

 

Experts have made it clear that these tests are not backed by science and do not deserve your business.

 

Genomelink advertises tests that can supposedly reveal genetic traits relative to one’s personality, fitness, optimal nutrition, and intelligence; right down to oddly specific traits such as one’s tendency to gamble or their response to Vitamin E supplementation.

The aforementioned startup GenePlaza touts that their test can predict an individual’s sexual preference (despite the ‘gay gene’ myth being debunked in August). Vinome claims it can recommend the perfect wine for your taste buds based on your genetic code.

This new sector of commercial genomics has been likened to horoscopes, providing consumers their traits with as much accuracy as their astrological counterparts.

These startups are promising results that not even scientists can deliver; geneticists have only just begun to truly understand DNA and are nowhere close to being able to determine something as specific as a person’s sensitivity to gluten or their vulnerability to hypnosis.

Experts have made it clear that these tests are not backed by science and do not deserve your business.

If you do end up handing over your raw DNA data to any of these startups, your money isn’t the only thing at stake.

Take a read of the terms of service and privacy policies for many of these companies, and you will find that they probably have permission to share or even sell your DNA with/to third parties, such as law enforcement, scientists and even insurance companies.

Life insurance companies in the States can deny coverage based on genetic tests, even if the results truly are flawed. A pessimist envisioning a dystopian society may even speculate the day when your DNA results are the reason you’re knocked back from a job, socially inhibited or even jailed, citing only your genomic sequence.

One thing is for sure; the ease of gene transaction makes it very difficult to delete every trace of your DNA once you’ve spat in a tube for one of these companies, all for inaccurate results not dissimilar to horoscopes at this point in time.

 

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