Sunday, December 28, 2008

let. to ed. re. "When in Doubt, Spit It Out" -- NY Times

Dear Sir:

Allen Salkin's recent article skillfully captures the consumer laissez-faire response to personal genomics. While personal genomics companies may bill themselves as recreational and non-medical to circumvent FDA oversight, there remain numerous unappreciated privacy concerns on par with sharing personal medical records.

Your genome describes--in exquisite detail --your propensity toward character traits and disease. And even if we can't decipher much of it now, scientific advances will eventually decode enough to substantially affect your children's privacy –with whom you share a large chunk of your genome.

Further, recent studies suggest that the genomic anonymity relied upon by many companies to share your data may be quickly eroding, further exposing the consumer and their family's genomic data. Like the erosion of online privacy, personal genomics will eventually push society to reevaluate our notions of privacy. Until then, personal genomics companies need to be especially vigilant in protecting our privacy.

Dov Greenbaum JD MPhil PhD
Mark Gerstein, PhD

Above is an unpublished letter in response to:
Allen Salkin's "When in Doubt, Spit It Out" (September 14, 2008, page ST1 of the New York edition), NY Times