23andMe – DNA Tests That Are Being Using For Far More Than Just Ancestry

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I ordered a 23andMe DNA test yesterday. Yes – I’ve taken one from Sorenson’s, and later AncestryDNA, but I’d like to see how the test done by 23andMe matches up to the earlier tests. I’m also fascinated by all the non-family history research that 23andMe does with our DNA – lots of health-related stuff. One of their areas of research deals with Lupus. When I registered my test, I was given the opportunity to fill out questionnaires that were to help advance their health-related research projects. I found it fascinating, and was pleased that I could be involved in a project that would help others. Click on the illustration to learn more about 23andMe.

DNA testing can also have a sociological side to it. A fascinating article was written by Carl Zimmer and posted at the New York Times website December 24, 2014. It was titled White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier. In the article he explains how 23andMe data was used to study how the ancestral makeup of self-identified African Americans, Latinos and European Americans differs by region-and why. I don’t remember reading this article when it was posted, but was prompted to do so by an email from 23andMe after I registered my test. Following is a teaser:

In 1924, the State of Virginia attempted to define what it means to be white.

The state’s Racial Integrity Act, which barred marriages between whites and people of other races, defined whites as people “whose blood is entirely white, having no known, demonstrable or ascertainable admixture of the blood of another race.”

There was just one problem. As originally written, the law would have classified many of Virginia’s most prominent families as not white, because they claimed to be descended from Pocahontas.

So the Virginia legislature revised the act, establishing what came to be known as the “Pocahontas exception.” Virginians could be up to one-sixteenth Native American and still be white in the eyes of the law.

People who were one-sixteenth black, on the other hand, were still black.

In the United States, there is a long tradition of trying to draw sharp lines between ethnic groups, but our ancestry is a fluid and complex matter. In recent years geneticists have been uncovering new evidence about our shared heritage, and last week a team of scientists published the biggest genetic profile of the United States to date, based on a study of 160,000 people.

Read the full article.

One thought on “23andMe – DNA Tests That Are Being Using For Far More Than Just Ancestry

  1. These contortions to a legal system would all be hilarious if they hadn’t been used to label and discriminate against human beings. Nature absolutely does not care about minor ethnic attributes; medical conditions that have grown prevalent amongst certain groups of people are the result of lack of genetic diversity, another indication that we evolved to mix things up.

    I recently received my results from the basic 23AndMe test and was interested to find just less than 2% Eastern Asian or Native American amongst all the British-Irish. As a broad view of my family history research it confirmed what I’ve found but as a finger pointing at a new direction for research it was of no practical use. There are no Asian ancestors indicated at all in records but an old family story and some possible connection through available records to Pawnee-Kansa-Pottowatamie ancestors in Missouri through my mother’s maternal line.

    The odd thing was, this segment of DNA appeared in my maternal line, but when I got my mother a 23AndMe kit last Christmas her results came back showing no Native American/East Asian indicators. I’m a bit stumped as to how I could have such a result on her line while she had none. Maybe there are still a few bugs in the system? I’m tempted to get each of us a test with another lab but will have to wait for prices to come down some more.

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