Interpreting the Implications of DNA Ancestry Tests


Shopping for genetic information has become popular, but consumers may not understand what exactly they are buying. The retail DNA industry is forcing laypersons, academics, and medical and legal professionals alike to face the crossroads of genetics, law, and society. How will we decipher the meanings of the tests, determine the value of the information provided, or appropriately encourage or discourage various applications of that genetic information? When it comes to understanding the signs at the crossroads of disciplines, something is always potentially lost in translation. This article provides an overview of the retail DNA industry, addressing a few questions ripe for misinterpretation and confusion. It argues that the challenges posed by the retail DNA industry are both intelligible and manageable; optimally, multidisciplinary individuals would guide the way, steering the courts, legislature, laboratories, and clinics toward an adequate balance of consumer protection, autonomy, and understanding.