The commercials over the holidays touting the sale of DNA kits almost sent me into orbit. Why in the world would I pay for a DNA kit and then pay to become a member of a genealogy web site? DNA data is extremely valuable and these companies want me to pay them to take my DNA data and pay to access DNA data? I have seriously never heard of any business plan so ridiculous but for some reason many people are happy to pay others to take his or her valuable DNA information and then pay others to access DNA information.
DNA data has the potential to make a tremendous amount of money far into the future. So many people are interested in DNA data and are willing to pay a lot of money for it. Unfortunately though it looks as if DNA submission participants may not see any of that money with the current state of things.
When arguments such as the greater good and science are voiced when attempts are made to justify a strange business plan such as this, then I recommend carefully scrutinize the profits at each stage of the process. Who is getting cash in their pocket at each stage? What will they use the cash for? Answers to these questions will help you determine if paying people to take something so important from you is really worth it.
Here are just a few very simple examples of what DNA data is or could be used for now or way into the future (and there are many more – some we cannot even comprehend yet):
- Car insurance companies: determine who is “healthy” enough to operate vehicles or who may be predisposed to certain conditions that one day may or may not impede ones ability to operate a vehicle (anything from depression to brain tumors)
- Health insurance companies: base coverage and rates on odds of survival/disease based on genetic makeup
- Grocery stores: deny some purchases (like sugar or alcohol) to those customers with genetic predispositions to certain conditions
- Designer babies: ability to pick whatever features one would like for a baby
- School athletics: determine who is or is not allowed to be on the high school basketball team based on genetic predispositions (i.e. heart conditions, blood pressure)
Can you tell I am just a tad paranoid? This paranoia of the current state of some of the DNA collection processes stems from my zest for life. This zest is fueled by many things, including the belief that anything is possible. Once humans are reduced to genetic categorizations, then the only things that are highlighted as possibilities for ones self are the items listed on a cold print out of capabilities determined by your genetic makeup. I can think of nothing more detrimental to the human spirit.