A half-million Americans will spend $100 to $1,000 per person for genetic genealogy tests this year, according to the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) <www.ashg.org>. But will all those people really understand what their genetic tests are telling them?
ASHG faults tests designed to determine ethnic ancestry, not those that estimate whether you’re related to someone or assign you to a haplogroup. “Rarely can definitive conclusions about ancestry be made beyond the assessment of whether putative close relatives are or are not related,” reports the statement.
The complex science and technical terms trip up many researchers. “Of course, sometimes it is challenging to explain the science to a customer who does not have a science background, as it would be in any discipline,” says Max Blankfeld, vice president of Family Tree DNA. “It’s exacerbated when people come to us after having received wrong information from other companies and in the media.”
Here’s a summary of how the ASGH wants the ancestry testing industry to change its ways. The group’s ancestry testing committee will follow up with a more in-depth “white paper” this spring.