I’ve been seeing lots of advertisements for companies that will, if you provide them with a swab of your DNA and a wad of cash, will analyze your DNA. And in exchange, you can get a chart showing, among other things, what your ancestry breakdown is, and what your risk of certain diseases might be. Sounds kind of neat, huh?
No. Thank. You!
Granted, I’m an insatiably curious person. And though I’m not a scientist, lots of my friends are scientists. I’ve also seen enough science fiction movies to be able to see that handing my DNA over to a company, for a fee, could have potentially disastrous consequences. What are they going to do with my DNA? I don’t think it’s too likely they’ll make human clones out of people’s DNA. We’ve just barely begun to be able to clone other animals, cloning humans is probably still a ways off. It’s still kind of creepy to me knowing that some company has my DNA just lying around waiting to be exploited in some fashion or sold to the highest bidder. Even if their disclosure agreements say they won’t do it. When does the “honor system” ever work? They could easily hand my DNA over to anyone and I probably wouldn’t be the wiser.
Want my DNA? Come and get it! I’ve seen lots of true crime shows where DNA evidence has been used to solve cases. Scientists can extract mitochondrial DNA out of human bone fragments to determine a person’s identity by comparing it to their mother’s DNA makeup. I don’t know why it has to be mom, it just does. Dad’s DNA doesn’t get passed on this way. It’s SCIENCE! It just is!
Scientists have swabbed people’s DNA from everything from discarded drinking vessels, cigarette butts, used condoms, bed sheets, hair brushes, dried blood stains, etc. You get the drift. If you ooze something, screw something, or put your mouth up against something, there’s going to be DNA involved. And this could either vindicate or convict you in a court case. It’s powerful stuff. And I’m not going to pay a corporation to have this power.
I don’t need a flashy full-color chart to tell me I’m a white female of primarily European ancestry. Since I have family members on both sides who have traced my family’s genealogy, I know I have ancestors who lived in Prussia, Denmark and England. There is heavy Native American ancestry on my mother’s side. You can’t see it too much in me, but you can see it in some of my older relatives and even a bit in my mother and my grandfather. My grandfather’s great-grandmother looked very Native American (Cherokee, from what I hear tell). I’m a genetic mutt. I don’t need a fancy chart to break down exactly what kind of mutt I am.
If it comes down to a court case where I’m wrongly accused of something, I’ll gladly hand over my DNA! If it will seem more like you’ve “earned” my DNA by raiding my trash, go for it! I like your moxie! Would you rather I just hand it over? Take my spit, please! Is spit not sufficient? Take this hair brush! Be a dear and clean it out while you’re at it, will you? How about this old Band-Aid? Personally, I collect paper beer mats, but I won’t judge you for collecting used Band-Aids! Want this wisdom tooth I’ve kept since 1997? Can’t handle the tooth? Are you kind of kinky? Here’s a pair of my soiled panties (keep ’em when you’re done with them and don’t tell me what you end up doing with them, but if you sell them, give me a cut)! Not kinky? Well, here’s a used snotrag! Wait…can they extract DNA from snot? Probably! Knock yourselves out! If it’s a matter of saving me from going to the Big House, have as much fun with my DNA as you please!