The business of DNA testing has become increasingly competitive. It’s almost trivially easy to test DNA for a variety of medical conditions and find long-lost relatives these days – which has opened the floodgates for other, more dubious services.
You can now ship your DNA off to a company that will analyse your genes and recommend the best cannabis products for you. But the science is being questioned and it begs the question about who is getting access to this data and how it can be misused.
The new platform, Strain Genie, is the brainchild of Nicco Reggente. A few years before, Reggente had built a platform that used data from a medical questionnaire to match marijuana users with specific strains that, coincidentally (I think not!), he was distributing through his newly legalised weed business.
Strain Genie was the natural progression – moving from a questionnaire to using actual genetic data.
There’s a full report at The Hustle detailing how the process works and what results one person received from the test.
DNA testing is becoming big business. A member of my family, who is building a super-detailed family tree, sent some DNA to Ancestry.com and discovered a number of distant relatives allowing us to fill in lots of blanks in the travels of our family. And while that’s interesting, there are challenges around how DNA is used as the laws around it are currently struggling to keep up.
The other consideration is that DNA, alone, doesn’t determine our future.
In order for a gene to be triggered there needs to be some sort of stimulus. In some cases, those stimuli are external such as exposure to radiation or diet. So, a genetic test can only really talk in terms of probabilities when it comes to matching you with a medication, or weed, in order to help avoid or manage a condition.
As far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem that Strain Genie’s testing lets you know if its products will cause any problems or trigger a genetic condition.
While it might be fun to send your DNA to someone to match you with the best strains of weed, or wine (yep – that’s a thing as well), or diet or exercise programs, it’s worth remembering that once your genetic data is in someone else’s hands, you lose control over it.
Most of us probably have a photo or two on social media we wish had never been taken, or posted an update only to regret it later. Imagine if your generic code was out there for someone to interpret out of context.