A reader writes in to The New York Times Magazine to ask about the ethics of DNA testing — the reader doesn't want to be tested, citing privacy concerns, but the reader's siblings want to learn about their genealogy through DNA testing. Ariel Kaminer, the Times' ethics columnist, recommends first considering whether "genetic testing [is] even worthwhile." She cites a report from the US Government Accountability Office that found many direct-to-consumer genetic tests have "inaccurate results and [make] exaggerated claims." As for privacy concerns, Kaminer notes that companies can't sell or use customers' data without permission, "but the fine print on those consent forms goes by so quickly that it can be hard to follow." In the end, Kaminer recommends educating the siblings about the limitations of testing and the significance of the consent forms. "Your siblings should consider how their actions affect you, but ultimately their genes are their own, however strong the family resemblance," she says.
Feb 28, 2012