The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 11/2007; 318(5849):399-400. DOI: 10.1126/science.1150098
Source: PubMed


Commercially available tests of genetic ancestry have significant scientific limitations, but are serious matters for many test-takers.

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Available from: Ann Morning, Jan 14, 2015
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    • "As a consequence of these new technologies, basic DNA testing is commercially available and relatively affordable to anyone seeking to create a family history, particularly since the first appearance of commercial genetic testing companies in the early 2000s. As we will discuss, the growth in the popularity of such companies has led to concerns being raised about the manner in which genetic information is returned to participants, and the uses to which this information is put, both from a scientific and an ethical standpoint (Bolnick et al., 2007; Lee et al., 2009; Tutton, 2004). The commercial availability of DNA testing raises a further issue. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article introduces some early data from the Leverhulme Trust-funded research programme, 'The Impact of the Diasporas on the Making of Britain: evidence, memories, inventions'. One of the interdisciplinary foci of the programme, which incorporates insights from genetics, history, archaeology, linguistics and social psychology, is to investigate how genetic evidence of ancestry is incorporated into identity narratives. In particular, we investigate how 'applied genetic history' shapes individual and familial narratives, which are then situated within macro-narratives of the nation and collective memories of immigration and indigenism. It is argued that the construction of genetic evidence as a 'gold standard' about 'where you really come from' involves a remediation of cultural and archival memory, in the construction of a 'usable past'. This article is based on initial questionnaire data from a preliminary study of those attending DNA collection sessions in northern England. It presents some early indicators of the perceived importance of being of Viking descent among participants, notes some emerging patterns and considers the implications for contemporary debates on migration, belonging and local and national identity.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Sociology
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    • "Identity formations based on genetic markers are already promoted by webpages and even diets are recommended based on haplotype. Experts such as Bolnick et al. (2007) emphasize that "the assumptions and limitations of these tests make them less informative than many realize [and] commercialization has led to misleading practices that reinforce misconceptions" (p. 399). "

    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013
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    • "However, there is not enough data to fully understand how consumers view genetic ancestry testing, how they interpret their test results, or the extent to which the results affect their psychological and social well-being. The psychosocial impact of the test results seems to be related to people's motivations for and preconceived notions of testing (Bolnick et al. 2007; Elliott and Brodwin 2002; Shriver and Kittles 2004; Winston and Kittles 2005). Thus, ascertaining people's perceptions of and attitudes towards genetic testing may be important in determining and addressing the effects test results may have. "
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the lay public's awareness and attitudes concerning genetic testing and what factors influence their perspectives. The existing literature focuses mainly on ethnic and socioeconomic differences; however, here we focus on how awareness and attitudes regarding genetic testing differ by geographical regions in the US. We compared awareness and attitudes concerning genetic testing for disease risk and ancestry among 452 adults (41% Black and 67% female) in four major US cities, Norman, OK; Cincinnati, OH; Harlem, NY; and Washington, DC; prior to their participation in genetic ancestry testing. The OK participants reported more detail about their personal ancestries (p = 0.02) and valued ancestry testing over disease testing more than all other sites (p < 0.01). The NY participants were more likely than other sites to seek genetic testing for disease (p = 0.01) and to see benefit in finding out more about one's ancestry (p = 0.02), while the DC participants reported reading and hearing more about genetic testing for African ancestry than all other sites (p < 0.01). These site differences were not better accounted for by sex, age, education, self-reported ethnicity, religion, or previous experience with genetic testing/counseling. Regional differences in awareness and attitudes transcend traditional demographic predictors, such as ethnicity, age and education. Local sociocultural factors, more than ethnicity and socioeconomic status, may influence the public's awareness and belief systems, particularly with respect to genetics.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2010 · Human Genetics
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