Should private DNA testing be banned until it is more accurate?

Wednesday, 21 July, 2010

Should governments be able to bar people from undergoing their own – privately funded – DNA tests, which have the potential to foreshadow future a variety of health problems, or is such a move another manifestation of the “nanny state”?

In the name of “protecting” us, the government seeks to prevent willing consumers from learning medically useful information about their own bodies that could tell them which diseases they may develop – and help them make important treatment, prevention, and lifestyle decisions.

While forewarned is forearmed, if the results of such tests are not entirely accurate, or are subject to misinterpretion – and the technology behind the tests is still being developed – then doubts as to whether they should be widely available are understandable though:

Of course, like any technology still in its infancy, consumer genetic testing is imperfect. Craig Venter and colleagues performed an interesting experiment where they sent duplicate saliva samples from five different individuals to two separate testing services to see how the results compared. They found that the companies reported essentially identical results with respect to the subjects’ raw genetic data, but did show some variations in how they interpreted their medical significance.

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