Opinion | Sexuality

Problems with Do-It-Yourself DNA Tests

Consumers don't just need information about their genes; they also need medical and theological wisdom.

After the FDA intervened this week, Walgreens has decided to postpone selling do-it-yourself DNA testing kits in 6,000 of its stores nationwide. The drugstore chain had arranged to sell kits made by Pathway Genomics that promised to reveal your risk of health issues ranging from obesity to breast cancer, as well as your children's risk of serious genetic disorders.

Walgreens reversed its decision after the FDA raised concerns that the kits would encourage consumers to make rash decisions based on genetic information not fully understood even by experts, and without consulting their doctors. The FDA also raised questions about the legality of selling the tests; Alberto Gutierrez told the Associated Press, "selling a test over the counter without an FDA clearance, particularly for the type of claims they have, is not legal." The Federal Trade Commission likewise warned that direct-to-consumer genetic tests "provide medical results that are meaningful only in the context of a full medical ...

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