Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

23andMe Selling Genetic Data On Millions of Americans

Published on July 10, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

The questions of our time have become – Who owns you? Your data? What about your DNA?

For customers who opted into signing a consent form when they signed up to have their DNA sequenced through the company 23andMe, it would appear that their DNA data belongs to a giant database that is being shared and sold to third-party medical and pharmaceutical firms.

As Gizmodo reported that the company that has been featured in Walgreens stores to sequence your DNA for a cheap one-time cost of $99 has a lot more at stake:

Today, 23andMe announced what Forbes reports is only the first of ten deals with big biotech companies: Genentech will pay up to $60 million for access to 23andMe’s data to study Parkinson’s. You think 23andMe was about selling fun DNA spit tests for $99 a pop? Nope, it’s been about selling your data all along.

Since 23andMe started in 2006, it’s convinced 800,000 customers to hand over their DNA, one vial of spit at a time. Personal DNA reports are the consumer-facing side of the business, and that’s the one we’re most familiar with. It all seems friendly and fun with a candy-colored logo and quirky reports that include the genetic variant for asparagus pee.

But … it’s always been about enticing customers to hand over their DNA sequences along with details of their lives in a questionnaire to build a giant database—one that academic researchers and biotech companies alike are, well, salivating over.

Its privacy policy notes that it will share aggregated data to third parties (read: sell to pharma and biotech companies) for scientific research if customers sign a consent document. Wojcicki told the San Jose Mercury News that 85 to 90 percent of 23andMe’s customers do.

For most, the concept of keeping a massive DNA database is still as creepy as that episode of the X-Files where they discover a giant filing cabinet system inside a mountain fortress containing smallpox records and tissue samples for every American:

But the truth is, there are attempts to database, store, share and sell our genetic information.

The government has been taking and keeping blood and DNA samples of all newborns for decades now, and yet it is barely known.

Read More HERE

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