DNA testing is not ‘just saliva’

To protect consumers, governments must step in to address the risks of nucleic acid testing.

The personal genomics market, also known as direct-to-consumer testing, is flourish It is owned by millions of individuals around the world used These dna testing services. The process is simple: With a normal online order, consumers receive a kit, provide a saliva sample, and return it to the company for analysis. as a major player in the market put it: “It’s just saliva. No blood. No needles.”

Users who are attracted to these personalized genetic tests can have high expectations. Through these tests, companies provide assistance to users to manage and to improve their health, explore its genetic risks, learn about their ancestors, and reach Higher athletic performance. Indeed, some researchers Argues That personal genomics will change lives.

But there is more to these services than meets the eye. Our research She suggests That consumers and government regulators should be vigilant about companies that sell genetic tests to individuals. The direct-to-consumer genetic testing market is one in which there are enormous financial interests, public health, and sensitive personal data Collide. This intersection results in a market equilibrium that harms consumers.

Consumers are often unaware of the risks and limitations of these tests. For starters, consumers don’t to push Adequate attention is paid to the legal arrangements – privacy policies, consumer contracts and informed consent forms – that govern these tests. our study She suggests These legal texts usually contain complex and ambiguous language in multiple lengthy documents buried in unclear links.

Moreover, users often misunderstand the meaning and importance of the services they consume. Genetic data and genetic test results are complex, but most consumers don’t know enough education And Understanding of statistical risk.

Moreover, most service providers Exam Just a part of an individual’s genome. Consumers are unlikely to realize that this limits the usefulness of many tests. Thus, consumers may often appearance Unfounded and unrealistic expectations.

Another limitation is that most tests for complex diseases are not standardized, but companies test different things. Consumers get contradictory results from different companies, which reduces the usefulness of such tests.

comp fuel Misunderstanding the consumer by providing disproportionate and inaccurate positive messages about the test and relatively little information about related risks and limitations. To facilitate consumer enthusiasm, providers often also use scientific language that impresses consumers with the promise of personalized and accurate medical advice.

These products can also pose multiple data risks that consumers are not likely to notice. Consumers may not realize, for example, that companies can store genetic data indefinitely.

In addition, consumers may not appreciate that the contracts they “accept” allow companies to use genetic data, other personal data, and physical samples for medical research. Thus, providers may take advantage of people’s genetic information in ways that they can exposure Sensitive personal information.

Moreover, service providers can collaborate with insurance companies. Consumers may not realize that their genetic information can affect their insurance coverage and premiums. As if that weren’t enough, some services advertiser In their contracts that consumers who do not disclose genetic testing to their insurance companies may be committing fraud.

Most importantly, the importance of genomic data he goes Beyond the individual tested, the potential impacts of personalized genomic services should concern the community as a whole. The overall impact of the sensitive data hoard on millions of consumers makes potential data leaks all the more serious. The higher the value of the data, the more likely it is that third parties – including hackers, terrorists, and other criminals and ill-intentioned – will attempt to obtain it.

It is unlikely that companies will accurately assess the harm they are doing to consumers. This result is more so when companies You want To believe that their services are purely business or that they contribute to the welfare of consumers.

Consumers aren’t the best at avoiding risk either. One cannot and should not expect consumers to acquire scientific knowledge and skills, Read Long, complex and cryptic texts, carrying constant suspicion and skepticism as a precondition for a DNA test.

This issue is exactly where regulation can help. To address this failure, governments must Submit Rights to consumer data designed for personal genetic testing. The move should come alongside other regulatory measures, such as compliance audits, mandatory codes of conduct, and model privacy policies and contracts for the industry.

Regulations should empower consumers and strengthen their control over their genetic data, giving consumers the right to access, transfer and erase their genetic data.

After all, a DNA test Not “Just saliva.”

Samuel Baker He is a professor at Victoria Business School at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Andelka Phillips Senior Lecturer in Law, Science and Technology at TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland, Australia.

The authors received funding from the Borrin Foundation for this research, but the opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the views or endorsement of the Borrin Foundation.

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