New Scientist : Your genome isn't that precious – give it away

The article rightly points out that one's genome isn't that precious. The 6 (or was it 7) billion human beings on Earth each have one. Every life form has one, from your pet to the potato chips you eat or the bacteria in your gut (which have a different genome from yours). I really don't see why people should be afraid to share their genome, especially anonymously.

All of us have some medical risk, but most of us have only minor risks for many diseases rather than major risks. Who cares anyway ? It takes a lot of analysis to review a single person's DNA, and we still don't know more than a fraction of the function of our 30,000 genes.

The interaction of genes is so complex that a allele can sometimes lower the risk for a disease associated with other alleles, but increase it in tandem with other variants of other genes. In fact, a single variant of a gene can raise risks for some medical conditions while decreasing it for other diseases. There is no ideal genome, and there is no reason to be afraid of knowing your genome.

The apex of self-consciousness and hubris is to think that strangers would be interested in you enough to actually seek to analyse your whole genome for you and seek to find out everything they can about you - a colossal task that would take weeks, if not months to achieve, even for a geneticist. One should be flattered if any other human being wished to spend some much time and energy learning about them.

Just look at how geneticist proceed to try to discover new genetic variants associated with diseases or traits. They have to compare thousands of genomes to find common alleles between people with a same condition. It can take years before a single study is verified and accepted. And that's just for one or a few SNP's out of 3 billion base pairs in our DNA. This should give you an idea of just how much work it is to analyse DNA, and how much there is still to discover. Only a few hundreds SNP's have clear associations, but the function of millions of others is still unknown.

This is why I agree with the New Scientist; stop being precious about your DNA and contribute to genetic research. US residents can do it for free with the Personal Genome Project. Others can test with 23andMe for just 99$.