Big Pharma Just Bought Access to Your DNA from Genealogy Company 23andMe
Knowing your ancestry is only a fun thing to look into, but it is also a fascinating and interesting process that can shed a lot of light on your personal understanding of your family.
However, have you ever though to consider that looking into your ancestry might not be the safest or most secure experience? Have you ever considered that offering DNA might have unknown outcomes?
If you paid for an ancestry report from 23andMe.com, then the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline now owns your genetic identity! Does that sound scary or what?
23andMe Selling Our DNA
However surprising or unsurprising it may be, the human DNA that 23andMe have been collecting has become a commodity. As the world’s largest genetic code database, 23andMe is using the collection of the DNA to create a kind of ‘new frontier’ for many different pioneering drug makers. In exchange for telling you your ancestry, 23andMe requires you to give them a sample of your DNA, but it seems that they later turn around and sell you genetic code for profit. Companies such as GlaxiSmithKline are eager and willing to pay a great amount of money for collections such as these.
The British pharmaceutical giant, GlaxiSmothKline, only recently invested $300 million into the genealogy company, purchasing a share in 23andMe in order to reap the great benefits. According to GlaxiSmothKline’s CEO, the merger of these two enormous companies should greatly accelerate the development of ‘novel treatment and cures
. their idea is that by having immediate access to an endless supply of DNA samples, GlaxiSmothKline can contribute to developing pharmaceuticals to treat illnesses and diseases. The genetic blueprints provided by 23andMe can now be freely used by GlaxiSmothKline to get the newest of drugs approved fast, into the market fast and treating health issues faster, at least that’s what GlaxiSmothKline has said in the press releases.
Some people might wonder exactly how this exchange is legal and customer going to 23andMe to find their ancestry information might not be thrilled to discover that their genetic codes have been sold for profit. However, according to current reports, 80 percent of 23andMe customers have opted to share their genetic data in addition to taking a survey about their lifestyle and health status entirely for research purposes.
Well over 5 million different individuals have offered saliva samples to 23andMe in exchange for ancestry information, leading to GlaxiSmothKline’s possession of at least 4 million DNA samples.
What You Can Do To Protect Your DNA
According to Peter Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, “If people are concerned about their social security numbers being stolen, they should be concerned about their genetic information being misused!” Pitts goes on to say that “This information is never 100 percent safe. The risk is magnified when one organization shares it with a second organization. When information moves from one place to another, there’s always a chance for it to be intercepted by unintended third parties.”
The 23andMe company even admits to the lack of safety, saying on their website, “Your genetic data, survey responses, and/or personally identifying information may be stolen in the event of a security breach. In the event of such a breach, if your data are associated with your identity, they may be made public or released to insurance companies, which could have a negative effect on your ability to obtain insurance coverage.” If you or anyone you know is interested in closing their 23andMe account, they should do so on the 23andMe Customer Care page. However, keep in mind: “any research involving your data that has already been performed or published prior to our receipt of your request will not be reversed, undone, or withdrawn.”
So, if you are thinking about checking your ancestry any time soon, you might want to reconsider if you do not want your DNA samples in the hands of a pharmaceutical company.