AUSTIN, TexasAlthough many people rely on commercially available genetic tests for insights into their ancestry, the tests have significant limitations according to Deborah Bolnick, assistant professor of anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin.
In The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing, which appears in the Oct. 19 issue of Science, Bolnick and 13 researchers from universities across the nation call upon the scientific community to better educate the public about the limitations of the tests, and urge consumers to approach the tests with caution.
At least two dozen companies market genetic ancestry tests, which typically cost between $100 and $900, to help consumers determine the origins of their ancestors. More than 460,000 people have purchased the tests during the past six years and public interest is growing.
The researchers argue that the assumptions and limitations of the tests make them less informative than many realize, and commercialization has led to misleading practices that reinforce misconceptions.
Some of the tests limitations identified by Bolnick and her co-authors include:
Consumers often have deeply personal reasons for taking the tests. Some hope to validate genealogical records or fill in gaps in family histories. Others are searching for a connection to specific group
|Contact: Deborah Bolnick|
University of Texas at Austin