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'It made me question my ancestry': does DNA home testing really understand race?

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https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/aug/11/question-ancestry-does-dna-testing-really-understand-race

theguardian.com

'It made me question my ancestry': does DNA home testing really understand race?
Last year, I did what 12 million people from all over the world have done and surrendered my spit to a home DNA-testing company. I hoped a MyHeritage test would bring me the peace I needed; my Irish mother had never been able to give me any information about my biological father.

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Ancestry testing

DNA-testing is done by millions of people all over the world to analyze their DNA and find out where they originate.

Targeted marketing for DNA home-testing kits shows models under the banne...

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DNA home tests

Some problems arise regarding DNA home tests about what happens after the results of land.

  • Storage of sensitive genetic information. An open-source DNA testing site was recently u...

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DNA home test variances

Many who have done a DNA home test begin to question their family heritage and wonder if they might have been misled. However, taking DNA tests from different companies reveal wildly var...

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Samples from Africa

Samples from Africa

DNA testing companies often have very few samples from Africa. Some companies are trying to rectify this and have launched a program to encourage researchers to study remote populations and submit ...

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Ethnicity and Ancestry

Genetics over the last 30 years has revealed that there are no clearcut biological racial categories. Everyone is racialized in some way.

Ancestry is a legacy, not a bloodline. Our genetic sc...

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Genetics And Nutrition

Scientists are continually finding links between genetics and nutrition. Many of us have a gene called FTO that makes us more likely to be overweight. You can get a genetic test to tell which variant of the FTO gene you happen to have.

However, scientists who study the genetics of nutrition think it’s premature to base nutritional advice on your DNA. That FTO gene, for example, has only been shown to make a few pounds’ difference in body weight.

Nutritional Genetic Testing

The coded messages of your DNA are billions of letters (nucleotides) long. Personalized nutrition companies only care about a few of your DNA letters and can tell you which "variant" you have at each of those locations (known as SNPs) along your DNA strands.

Genetic testing companies can learn what SNP variants you have by supplying them with a vial of spit.

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A cry for identity

The term “race” is widely used but isn't scientifically valid. Race is a social construct. For many, it is a desire for identity and belonging.

Ancestry

  • We are more closely related than we think. A family tree isn't the most scientifically accurate metaphor: Trees branch out while family trees contain loops, for example, as a result of first cousins having children.
  • The commercial genetic tests remain scientifically unconvincing.

Racist beliefs

The core of many racist stereotypes is that race is a biological classification.

  • We are told that race is a social construct, only to have scientists carelessly mention both race and ethnicity in their research papers.
  • The majority of geneticists think genetic differences between ethnic groups are meaningless regarding behavior or innate abilities. But scientific papers still show genes for complex traits, like intelligence, are along racial lines.
  • Race science is pseudoscience, but genetics and evolutionary research are tied up with race.

    Human DNA is a Puzzle

    In genetic ancestry testing, even identical twins who have virtually the same DNA may or may not get the same results.

    Different DNA companies can show different results, in the case of twins...

    A Booming Business

    Consumer genetic testing is expanding as more than 26 million people have taken this kind of test, according to the MIT Technology Review.

    The First Step

    DNA tests are still considered estimates, due to imperfect data.

    When a person wanting to give the test provides the DNA sample through the saliva, the company checks for variance in the saliva, as 99.9 percent of the DNA is the same in humans.

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