Lifestyle genetics

A recent article in the Atlantic titled “The DNA Test As Horoscope” discusses the current trend of developing nonmedical DNA tests. I had already been somewhat skeptical of the consumer DNA tests purporting to help people to find their ancestry and those giving people a general health profile without the burden of specific genetic counseling, but I was not aware that a person could pay $149 per quarter to receive three personalized bottles of wine based on a DNA test along with a taste profile questionnaire.

I realize that in our consumer economy people pay for many things that I consider worthless, and much of what people spend is spent on entertainment. If a people are willing to spend money on something because they find it entertaining, is it wrong for others to make money by selling it to them? With this type of consumer oriented genetic testing some of the concern is that people may be being deceived and are not actually getting what they think they are paying for. If that is the case it is wrong. However, what may be a bigger concern is that people are being sold the idea that anything that seems scientific must be valid without any substantial data to demonstrate its validity. They are also being sold the concept that we are what our genes say we are. That reductionist concept of humanity may be the most harmful aspect of looking to our genetic makeup to tell us about ourselves, even to choose the wine we will have for supper.

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