October 17

Scientists Warn over Excessive Claims for DNA Ancestry Testing

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Scientists Warn over Excessive Claims for DNA Ancestry Testing
Over the last 10 years the science of DNA analysis has made huge advances. In fact, today DNA branding is used as a way of not only protecting your copyright but also as a way of enhancing your brand image.

However, alongside that and uses in areas such as criminology and health, there has been a huge explosion in the selling of services designed to analyse your DNA to tell you something of your ancestry. The objective often is to try and tell you whether or not you are ‘related’ to famous people in the past.

This testing sometimes leads to amazing ‘revelations’ that you may be in directly descended from people such as Napoleon, George Washington, Ned Kelly or a member of the British royal family.

Yet a number of DNA scientists are warning* that these claims of association are at best tentative and sometimes useless.

The problem arises because once DNA linkage deduction goes back more than three or four generations, the ‘background noise’ of the mass of DNA in the population can become overpowering. The interconnections are so many that almost everybody can ultimately apparently be descended from almost anyone they wish.

Studies in the United Kingdom have shown that it’s possible to link some present-day DNA back to the Vikings, Romans, Normans and the Anglo Saxons. In other words, when you go back a certain distance in the past it becomes exceptionally difficult to be specific about lineage and there may be traces of just about all historic populations.

Of course, it is possible to analyse certain population origin traces in DNA but it can be extremely dangerous extending that to claims that you are descended from a given individual or even a given people.

The implication in the news reports on this subject is that some organisations are at times making claims for this distant ancestry testing that are either exaggerated or perhaps more charitably, less than clearly explained.

It will be interesting to see how the story develops over the weeks and months ahead and what difference it makes to the commercial futures of the companies providing the services. *Source and copyright – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9912822/DNA-ancestry-tests-branded-meaningless.html


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