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Biotech Science To Add DNA Test Results 223

Spamicles writes "For less than $200 and a cheek-swiped cotton swab, you will soon be able to add DNA results to family tree Web sites. plans to launch the DNA testing product by the end of summer, offering customers the possibility of finding DNA matches in the site's 24,000 genealogical databases. By taking a simple cheek-swab test and comparing results against DNA profiles in a test-results database, virtually anyone can uncover genealogical associations unimaginable just a few years ago. Users can easily connect with and discover lost or unknown relatives within a few generations, as well as gain insight into where their families originated thousands of years ago."
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  • Privacy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:03AM (#19563285)
    I had a genealogy site up a few years ago. I eventually took it down due to complaints from my (extended) family regarding privacy concerns. I had people emailing me asking to remove their mothers' maiden names from the database.

    God only knows how something like manages to keep afloat with all the privacy concerns.

    P.S. I would try to put my database back up and require registration for searching, but there is no way for me to validate any registration (to avoid identity theives), so the point is probably moot.
  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:36AM (#19563585) Homepage Journal
    IANAL, but I'm guessing that they could request your DNA from, and if the site refused to turn over results, they could probably get a subpoena as long as they were able to show reasonable cause. But this would be no different than getting DNA directly from you, which is much cleaner in terms of the chain of evidence.

    OTOH, as long as a doctor is the one obtaining the DNA, there is a degree of doctor/patient confidentiality. On the gripping hand, the courts generally will still issue a subpoena to get DNA from medical records (again, with reasonable cause), and I suppose it's no different in this case.
  • Re:Why exactly (Score:5, Informative)

    by grylnsmn ( 460178 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:38AM (#19563599)
    The LDS Church doesn't run It runs

    And no, that has nothing to do with "put[ting] more names in the Book of Mormon". In fact, while Baptism for the Dead is mentioned in the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:29), it isn't mentioned at all in the Book of Mormon.
  • by BlueTrin ( 683373 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @08:49AM (#19563697) Homepage Journal

    Doctors calculate that about 5-10% of all children have a different biological father than they (and their "social" fathers) think.

    Can you provide a link to the study, I have often seen this quote, but never found a reliable source which shows the result of the study.
  • Re:Privacy? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:02AM (#19563839)
    'And to be honest, shouldnt we be using something OTHER than Mother's maiden name to reset passwords and crap by now?'

    Yes. However, the banks, etc., don't really care what answer you use for mother's maiden name; give them anything you want which you will remember if needed. This applies to any of these test questions; the answer need not have anything to do with reality.

  • Bradshaw Foundation (Score:5, Informative)

    by 12WTF$ ( 979066 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @09:32AM (#19564131)
    FFS! Rather than moderate the /dribble about DNA forensic testing as OT, I'll contribute.

    This is a valuable service (yes there are others available) that tests certain parts of the mitachondrial DNA to establish your maternal lineage and tests certain parts of the Y chromosome (I make the assumption that 98% of the readers are male) to establish your paternal lineage.
    If you want to educate yourself on one of the benefits, please take a few hours to learn how this technique has provided amazing details of the 165k yr journey of mankind to populate the planet []
  • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @10:18AM (#19564603) Journal
    I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a bit and say that just because somebody's DNA is found at a scene doesn't automatically make agencies go "he did it". It's -a- piece of evidence and one that can be discarded as easily as *snaps fingers* that if there's a good explanation.

    Now... if you have no alibi for the time they're placing the crime at, and no good explanation whatsoever of why your DNA would be there... yes, the police may investigate you a little closer. Still doesn't mean they'll just skip the whole investigation and trial thing and just lock you up 'because the DNA said he did it'. If they tried, then lawyers these days are quite savvy enough to come up with some reasonable explanation of why your DNA might be there (even if you can't), and the cops, too, know they'll need a little more than that to convince a judge/jury.

    I find automated bits and pieces just as scary as the next guy (probably a bit scarier because I've been detained at 3 separate events for carrying a camera with a suspicious looking lens (it's a fisheye) - one of which was a bomb scare - so yeah, I know how it feels to automatically be 'suspect'), but let's not blow things way out of proportion.
  • by TwoSevenOneEight ( 202981 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @10:24AM (#19564679)
    Studies have generated a range of rates of "non-paternity events". There's an article with more details in this month's The Atlantic (subscription required): []

    From the article:

    "When geneticists do large-scale studies of populations, they sometimes can't help but learn about the paternity of the research subjects. They rarely publish their findings, but the numbers are common knowledge within the genetics community. In graduate school, genetics students typically are taught that 5 to 15 percent of the men on birth certificates are not the biological fathers of their children. In other words, as many as one of every seven men who proudly carry their newborn children out of a hospital could be a cuckold."

    "Non-paternity rates appear to be substantially lower in some populations. The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which is based in Salt Lake City, now has a genetic and genealogical database covering almost 100,000 volunteers, with an overrepresentation of people interested in genealogy. The non-paternity rate for a representative sample of its father-son pairs is less than 2 percent. But other reputed non-paternity rates are higher than the canonical numbers. One unpublished study of blood groups in a town in southeastern England indicated that 30 percent of the town's husbands could not have been the biological fathers of their children."
  • by SnailNobra ( 903090 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @10:43AM (#19564957) Homepage

    Your DNA is not public, just the markers. When your DNA is profiled they will use a set number of markers (anywhere between 12 and 44) to determine your halpogroups (where your DNA originated from) and place you into a combination of groups. It is these markers that become public. Generally the testing sites will destroy your DNA after 6 months; it is kept this long incase you want to have other tests done like y-chromosome, mitochondrial, etc.

    Chances are the testing is being contracted out to another organization like The DNA Testing Center of America [] or another large DNA testing lab at which the DNA retention policies would be that of the lab.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @12:22PM (#19566223)
    In Houston, they are reviewing (and turning over many of) over a hundred cases that were based on DNA evidence.

    There was this problem of the lab using incorrect techniques and even worse apparently just saying the DNA evidence matched if the prosecution really wanted it too.

    DNA evidence can be manipulated fairly easily apparently. It took close to a decade before they got caught.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:27PM (#19567179)
    Well, you ARE related to your wife. Everyone is, though some more closely than others.

    If you and your wife can both trace your ancestries to 17th-Century Massachusetts, it's very liekly that you're related. That's about 12 generations back, so let's say you had about 4096 (2 to the 12th power) ancestors in about 1630 (about 4096, because some of your ancestors at that time are likely to have been ancestors on more than one of your lines). There were only a few thousand people in Mass in 1630 (something like 20,000), so there's a very good chance that your ancestry intersects your wife's on at least one line.

    If you and your wife are both of European ancestry, and if you take that back another 12 generatinos (which would take you to something like 1200 AD), and that's "about" 16,777,216 ancestors. The popuation on Europe was about 59 million [] in 1200. If you know that you and she have common ancestry in the same part of Europe, you can be just about 100% sure that you and she are related to some degree.


  • Re:Privacy? (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday June 19, 2007 @01:39PM (#19567325) Homepage Journal
    Did you also remind them to stop using there mothers maiden names for crap?

    I mean, they're family so you had to pull it down, but still.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.