Cops are increasingly turning to commercial gene-testing services to solve crimes, using a process called "genetic genealogy" that uses the records of people who are near-matches for DNA from crime scenes to zero in on suspects; that's how they caught the Golden State Killer, but cops don't just ask genetics services for data when they're after killers, sometimes they deputize these services to help them solve petty crimes.
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Distributed today to all users of the 23andMe home genetic testing service, after the FDA ordered the firm to halt sales of new kits:
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Dear 23andMe Customers,
I wanted to reach out to you about the FDA letter that was sent to 23andMe last Friday.
It is absolutely critical that our consumers get high quality genetic data that they can trust. We have worked extensively with our lab partner to make sure that the results we return are accurate. We stand behind the data that we return to customers - but we recognize that the FDA needs to be convinced of the quality of our data as well.
At what point does interesting-but-potentially-incorrect-or-misleading information become a potential threat to health? How do you regulate a product that current regulations were never set up to handle? The University of Michigan's Risk Science Center put together this quick cartoon that neatly summarizes the problems and questions at the heart of the FDA's crackdown on 23andMe, which Xeni wrote about on Monday.
A couple of other smart takes on this that have come out in the past couple of days:
• Genomics expert Michael Eisen delves deeper into the question of how we should regulate personal genetic testing.
• Journalist David Dobbs rounded up some diverse opinions. You should pay attention to his blog. He's been doing a lot of great reporting on genetics and culture and is planning on publishing a longer piece on the 23andMe stuff later this week. Read the rest