This National Geographic Genography study came across my email the other day via my SigOther as something I might be interested in doing. As I understand it, the study is attempting to track the movement of indigenous peoples based on their genetic make up. As a non-indigenous person, that doesn’t make me terribly useful, but NG is offering to tell me my background, genetically, for a small fee that will help to fund the “real” project and provide them some interesting info at the same time.
My SigOther was right. I am interested in that kind of stuff and have, sporadically, thought about dabbling in the whole family tree thing. I tend to be far more stuck in the past than the future and am always interested in the what-happened-when stories. My curiosity really should have gotten the better of me on this one, and I should have already sent away my order.
As recently as 5 or 6 years ago, I would have.
Now, however, I seem to have several reasons not to participate. First, I’m pretty sure that my most of my long-long ago relatives were from Scotland, Ireland, England (and, therefore, at least partly Scandinavian), Denmark and India. Second, I’m not too sure that I want to pay for it. Third, while my sample for analysis will be discarded by the end of the study (in an estimated 5 years) and will only be used to test for the markers used in this study (unless I request otherwise), it is clear from the terms and conditions that participant information will be disclosed, when required by law. And, the way things are going, I’m not inclined to simply hand over my entire genetic code.
Now, realistically, I drop my DNA all around me every day, practically wantonly, in lost hair and skin. If anyone really desperately wanted to sequence the code in my cells, it wouldn’t take them long to get a sample. In addition, I have nothing to hide and a lot that I’d like to know. What is lurking in my background? Do I have any genetic predispositions? How does that fit into the population as a whole? But, that’s not really the point. All this interesting stuff can be analyzed a million different ways, not only for interest’s sake, but to come back and somehow bite me in the ass. No, I’m not sure of that last bit, but the fact that such a concept is now even something I anticipate is really really scary. And sad. Even more-so, that a simple change in the letters at the end of a web address could change everything. I probably wouldn’t be writing this post if it were at “.ca” or “.de” or “.co.uk”. I’d be off scraping the inside of my cheek for a buccal DNA sample instead.