Can You Pass the (Deoxyribonucleic) Acid Test?

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For just $99, genetic test company 23andme offered to test your DNA for everything from heart disease risk to your chance of going bald. Kira Peikoff wondered what DNA testing from 23andme and two other companies would tell her—and the results were surprising. We’ll also talk to geneticist Dr. David Ng. His story in McSweeny’s, “Congratulations, Your Ineffectual Genetic Test Results Have Arrived” pokes fun at the “direct-to-consumer” genetic testing industry. Then Dr. Stuart Newman fills us in on epigenetics, evolutionary developmental biology, and why the Lamarck versus Darwin debate may be old news. Finally, advocate Pete Shanks on the “promise” of GMO humans and the threat of techno-eugenics.

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Kira Peikoff is an author and Masters student in bioethics at Columbia University. Her New York Times article in December exposed the fallacies of direct-to-consumer genetic testing (see more resources on genetic test companies below). Check out her debut novel Living Proof (and look for her upcoming 2nd novel in the fall) on her website.

David Ng is a geneticist, science educator, and the Director of the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (AMBL) at The University of British Columbia. His piece, “Congratulations! Your Ineffectual Genetic Test Results Have Arrived!” is on McSweeny’s, and you can see much more of his writing and other work on his Tumblr ThisisHowITalkScience (also be sure to see his paper on “supergenes” in the Incredible Hulk).

Stuart Newman is a Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy and the New York Medical College, and was a founding member of the Council for Responsible Genetics. You can find many of his papers on genetics and society on his website.

Pete Shanks is the author of Human Genetic Engineering: A Guide for Activists, Skeptics and the Very Perplexed. Pete also writes regularly for Biopolitical Times, the blog of the Center for Genetics and Society.

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