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Hey, California, Get Out of Our DNA

California's flurry of cease-and-desist letters to 13 genetic testing companies (including 23andMe) has whipped the blogosphere into a frenzy. As GTO noted Monday, the sticking point is that the state governs genetic tests as medical services, and requires that a doctor be involved in ordering the test and dishing out the results.

Most of the objections are along the "my DNA, my right to get it scanned" theme: Thomas Goetz at Epidemix says these kinds of tests should be considered similar to pregnancy tests, which are available without getting a physician involved. "Frankly I don't need a doctor, and I don't want a doctor, to facilitate my understanding of what my DNA means," he writes. "Yes, there are some medical implications, but these are hardly live-or-die moments."

Over at TechCrunch, Jason Kincaid blogs that perhaps the idea of approaching these tests with caution isn't such a bad thing. "The problem with this kind of casual DNA testing is that it almost trivializes the importance of genetic information," he writes, adding:

New York and California may be misguided in their efforts to mandate a doctor's approval, but we should remember that these are two unusually progressive states that don't seem keen on hampering citizens' rights. Regardless of the eventual outcome of these cases, there's one important message we should take from their hesitation: tread lightly.


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