Home DNA paternity test

 Gimages Dnatestingcollectionkit New spit-based home medical tests for the likes of breast cancer may be on the horizon, but DNA paternity testing kits are already on drugstore shelves. Over at Boing Boing Gadgets, Joel has the details on Identigene's $30 kit. Science helps answer the eternal question of "Who's your daddy!?"


  1. now this is going to cause some serious mischief.

    I imagine they have an iron-clad legal disclaimer that is still not going to prevent a great many murders and lawsuits.

    This is A BAD IDEA.

  2. Does anybody remember that article about how many fathers are caring for children that are not theirs? It was some shocking number of fathers. Pretty amazing stuff, can’t find the article now.

  3. Kudos to the company that made this product available. This represents another step forward for men.

    Now, if we could only get the supreme court to grant men the same family planning rights that women have. Men should have the right to decline paternity in cases of unintended conception just like women have had that right for over 30 years.

    Check out


    To support men’s family planning rights. Matt Dubay is courageously taking on the Michigan family court in an effort to take control of his reproductive rights.

  4. @4 The thing is, even now men ‘decline paternity’ constantly, and women get stuck with the kid. For some reason, it rarely happens the other way around.

    Social conventions and roles have created a situation where in general, men are able and willing to abandon their children, and women are unable/unwilling to do so. I agree that in principle men shouldn’t be required to parent a kid they never wanted, but the unbalanced social norms of how men and women relate to babies makes this impossible to apply in an equal way. Basically, you can’t just say “men are free to decide to be deadbeats but so are women”, because in practice most women feel overwhelming pressures and social stigmas against abandoning a child that men do not.

    I’d suggest that if a man feels strongly about not being required to parent a child he may accidentally conceive, that he discuss it with his sex partner and make a legal agreement to that effect. If both parties are really OK with that arrangement, then there should be no problem, right?

  5. Hmm, I’m thinking of opening a prank line of products, similar to what is featured here, but the results are always positive. Let the good times roll…

  6. I can see such a market for this among teenagers who are thinking “I must be adopted. I can’t _possibly_ be related to _those_ people … ”

  7. The $30 is deceptive. This is a collection kit – the lab fees are extra and a lot more expensive.

  8. Funny. My kid is way moodier than I am; nothing like me at all! I wonder if I’m really his mother. Where do I find this quality product?

  9. @zikzak

    Should women then be required to get permission from men to abort? That doesn’t seem fair to me, but it’s the implication of what you suggest.

  10. This is wonderful.

    The facts of sexual behaviour can be summed up as: males are stupid, females are dishonest. That is, males will indiscriminately have sex with anything, and females will discretely have sex with any male of higher-status than their pair-bonded mate. This behaviour is more-or-less universal to species that form social pair-bonds. A good discussion can be found in “The Myth of Monogamy”.

    Figures vary depending on factors like the degree of social and economic inequality, but between 5 and 25% of human children are fathered by someone other than their mother’s socially pair-bonded partner. This has been part of the evolutionary dance since time immemorial.

    And now it is broken.

    This is going to be the biggest thing since the Pill. It’ll disrupt homes and destroy families. Society will have to face up to the fact that extra-pair copulations are almost as common amongst women as men. Public discourse will be full of the smoke from burning stereotypes and stripped mental gears.

    Welcome to the new world.

  11. Oops–that should have been “between 2 and 25%”. IIRC the Swiss or the Swedes have the lowest rates, while the highest are in developing-world places with really steep economic inequality.

  12. I’ll be opening a lab that gives you the results you WANT to hear. Should be able to collect quite a bit of cash before they shut me down.

  13. Imagine its your turn in line at the local drug store and the cashier shouts, “I NEED A PRICE CHECK ON THE IDENTIGENE DNA PATERNITY TEST KIT!!!”

  14. Ewwwwww.

    Leave your dog alone in the future please.

    I know I should try for tolerance but if you need a paternity test to determine who fathered your dog’s puppies there’s something .. . .




  15. I have #4’s back.

    Women have reproductive rights; men have reproductive responsibilities.

    This, of course, stems from personal experience. When I was much, much younger, my girlfriend had a miscarriage. This was shocking and painful enough, because she was so hardheaded she wouldn’t go to the hospital until she had lost so much blood she passed out. Then when we found out what it was, I was terrified, guilty, but a little relieved. Until she said: “It doesn’t bother me that much. It’s like someone said ‘you won $100, but it’s gone now.’ You had a good thing, but lost it before you even knew about it.”

    I continued to comfort her, but it ultimately led to our painful breakup (she was wonderful, but all this was way too heavy for me at the time), partly because that comment ran through my head for weeks.

    My education, my plans, my dreams, my future could have all been wiped out with a big child support bill, just because my girlfriend couldn’t remember to take a pill every night.

    I have been afraid of accidental pregnancy ever since. Terrified. To the point that it becomes clear to my partners that I don’t, when push comes to shove, trust them.

    I didn’t want–couldn’t handle–that kid, if it had been born. If I were a woman and felt that way, I could do something about it. But as a man, I had no say. I had practiced due diligence in avoiding conception, but due to circumstances out of my control, it had happened nonetheless. Circumstances have never been out of my control since.

    And to #12: I think some hardline male reproductive rights folks actually say that, but it seems like madness to me. The point is to achieve parity. Both should be allowed to opt-out. Ideally there would be a window of time from knowledge of the event wherein you could do so, with the default position being one of support. Furthermore, of course, once you opt-in, you should only be able to opt-out with the legal consent of both parental parties.

    Do guys skip out on support? Yeah, all the time. But it’s illegal, and rightly so. I’m just arguing that it should be legal for a male to state at the beginning whether he will be supporting or not. “Deadbeat dads” are not what we are talking about.

  16. Would this be a good time to mention how glad I am that I’m queer? Kyle’s comment raises a question to which there is no good answer. Just two crappy ones.

  17. #17: http://xkcd.com/236/ (Be sure to check out the alt text on the image to get the reference.)

    #1: Alvin Toffler said something in Future Shock along the lines of science/technology being a runaway train which we had lost control of, vastly outpacing our ability to deal with the social and ethical consequences.

    Bad idea or not, the tech is coming. (This is not really a home paternity test kit, but one cannot be far in the future.)

    I quite enjoy Transmetropolitan as a portrayal of the near future. It’s going to be weird, and the ethics we end up living with (assuming we survive) will be intensely alien to our modern sensibilities.

  18. Darth Vader: No. I am your father.

    Luke Skywalker: No. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!

    Darth Vader: Search your feelings, you know it to be true!

    Luke Skwaylker: Pee in this cup, then we’ll know for sure! Uh, I mean, No. No. Noooooooooo!

  19. But as a man, I had no say.

    And don’t you think there’s something wrong with that? I’m not suggesting you ought to have had a say, just that there is something badly wrong with the situation as it stands.

    Having a child is a situation where men’s emotional reality runs smack into our biological reality. The vast majority of us are invested in our children far beyond what anyone admits, yet all we see in public discourse is stereotypes of deadbeat dads.

    At least with this kit you’d know the child was yours.

    Maybe in a few years there will be an effective, cheap and safe male contraceptive, but for some reason no one is researching that much, and I’m damned sure it isn’t because of lack of demand from men.

  20. you know, Antinous, I’ve been thinking about your comment. It’s not fair. I think there should be a random lottery system. All gay men should be required to register and there should be orphans legally assigned to a calculated percentage of them – just to even things up. It’s only democratic.

  21. “Maybe in a few years there will be an effective, cheap and safe male contraceptive, but for some reason no one is researching that much, and I’m damned sure it isn’t because of lack of demand from men.”

    And if only they could be bought for a few quarters, in places like bathrooms!

    Seriously, though, men who are very deeply concerned CAN wear condoms and/or have vasectomies. There are many reasons why men do not (yet) have a wide and varied range of hormonal contraceptions like women do, and that really sucks and that should change. But I repeat:

    Reproduction itself is sucky and inherently unfair. (I’m not even being sarcastic here!) It’s so unfair that women bear all of the burden and pain. It’s so unfair that, strictly biologically speaking, women get an extra “right of refusal” in the form of abortion. It’s so unfair that nature doesn’t give a damn how we feel. It’s so unfair that women have hidden ovulation! (well, from the male perspective)

    Keep ’em wrapped or get ’em snipped, gentlemen.

  22. #31: “It’s so unfair that women bear all of the burden and pain.”

    Well, men have to listen to them complain about it, so it all evens out.

    /I keed, I keed

  23. Vasectomies can spontaneously reverse.

    I disapprove of abortion in general, but adamantly past the first trimester; I believe past first trimester should be outlawed.

    In the case of a woman getting an abortion, I think men should have a say in allowing it, and if they give up claims to the child than they should not be required to raise or fund it. Men can leave if the woman has a pregnancy she does not terminate and they do not want to participate in.

    However- what about when the woman wants an abortion and the man has strong religious beliefs against? Believe it or not, people do have strong emotional reactions to losing their unborn babies, even the men.

    We need pods for growing foetus in.

  24. Oh please, I’m so sick of the “poor men” comments. You have control over 50% of the process it takes to conceive. So, use a condom or get a vasectomy. Blaming your laziness on your girlfriend not taking her pill is weak.

    Better yet, take the time to have a mature relationship, discuss what you both need/want, do not want and if need be make a legal agreement about what to do with unintended spawn.

    The oh poor me stuff is complete crap gentlemen. You do have half of the control so no excuses. You just tend to forget that when getting laid becomes the primary concern.

  25. Yeah Beep, because invasive, unreversable* surgery is *clearly* directly on par with taking a freakin’ pill.

    Give ME a pill. I’ll take the pill. I won’t forget the pill. I’ll love the pill forever. Or better yet, give me a male version of Norplant, which I don’t think has been mentioned yet.

    Condoms are great when you’re changing partners. After being with someone for a couple of years, you should be able to go without the raincoat… without having to worry about fatherhood.

    Poor men my arse.

    *yes, there is a ‘vasectomy reversal’ operation, but it’s only 50-70% effective and is extremely expensive, and almost never covered by insurance of any kind.

  26. To #5 and all other opponents of my original comment:

    Let me preface my retort by apologizing for neglecting to address any other opposing arguments.

    First off, in response to

    “men ‘decline paternity’ constantly, and women get stuck with the kid”

    The fact is men in the United States can never legally decline paternity even if they want to. Women are legally afforded many opportunities to decline paternity in the course of their pregnancies and even after their children are born. Abandonment legislation has been passed in nearly all 50 states in response to high numbers of infanticide in the 1980’s. Abandonment legislation allows a mother to legally and ANONYMOUSLY abandon her newborn baby at police stations, fire stations and even public libraries without recourse or financial obligation. A mother in the United States isn’t even required to notify or seek permission from the child’s biological father prior to abandoning his child.

    Female US citizens are never “stuck with the kid”. Women choose to bring the child to term and ultimately and unilaterally accept legal paternal responsibilities. At no point in the process has legal paternity been forced upon any woman in the United States for over the last 30 years. Yet it happens to hundreds if not thousands of US men every day.

    Again to # 5, in response to
    “I’d suggest that if a man feels strongly about not being required to parent a child he may accidentally conceive, that he discuss it with his sex partner and make a legal agreement to that effect. If both parties are really OK with that arrangement, then there should be no problem, right?”

    Wrong. It would be wonderful if the US state and federal family court systems gave men such options like the one you suggested, but, sadly, they don’t. There is no such legal precedence or court recognition for hypothetical legal agreements that you propose short of sperm banks sans sexual intercourse. A man loses any family planning control as soon as heterosexual intercourse takes place. If he objects to paternity, he can be dragged (yes, literally) into court, forced to submit to DNA testing and again, forced, to “accept” paternity of an unintended conception which includes but is not limited to hefty child support obligations. That 17% of income in most US states PLUS a percentage(usually higher than 17% depending on income levels of both parents) of daycare, medical and, yes, TUITION, if the mother and only the mother decides to enroll the child in private school. Not to mention that once the biological father is determined in most states, he will be held responsible for 100% of the medical birthing costs if the mother is uninsured at the time of labor. That’s 100%. Not half, not even 70%, but 100% of the birthing costs. That’s the law. So, as you can see the amount of child support is much higher than 17% and is quite crippling. Try paying 17% of your income each month when you’re already trying to pay off over $40,000 in medical bills that aren’t even your own and see how quick people are to classify you as a deadbeat.

    Don’t get me started on the sorry state of the child support enforcement agencies in the United States. That gripe alone could fill volumes. I’ll just say that the reason that there is a deadbeat dad epidemic in the US is not because there are so many fathers attempting to abandon their children and deny support. The reason is that the child support enforcement agencies’ and family courts’ requirements are completely unfair, unrealistic and finanicially crippling.

    What’s worse with this whole mess is that the contraceptive method available to men is a joke. Condoms? They break! Even when used correctly, they have a failure rate of 15%. That means that for every 100 couples using condoms perfectly (and most don’t) 15 unintended pregancies will occur. The failure rate for imperfect condom use increases to an astounding 20%. That’s about as effective as the withdrawal method.

    Although, vasectomy reversal surgical technology has improved, they are not always effective. So, vasectomy although effective in preventing pregnancy have to be considered permanent sterility. Women in the US almost never have to go to those lengths to ensure against unintended paternity.

    It’s no wonder why 70% of all annual pregnancies in the United States are unintended.

    Compare that to the perfect use failure rate of most contraceptive methods (i.e. the pill) avaiable to women which is less than 1%.

    It’s the 21st century. Yes, let’s get an effective, rock solid male contraceptives for men like women currently enjoy. Let’s also afford men the same legal rights that women have.

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