DNA

Claim a free Findmypast DNA kit at FGS 2019

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

    • Exclusive to FGS attendees, Findmypast will be offering a FREE Findmypast DNA kit for every GEDCOM uploaded to the Findmypast family tree
    • Upload your tree at the Findmypast booth (#110) to claim your free kit
    • All free kits come preloaded with a complimentary 14-day subscription to Findmypast

Tuesday August 20th 2019

Findmypast DNA – the only test specifically designed to help make British & Irish family history discoveries – will be free to all those who upload a GEDCOM to the Findmypast Family Tree at the 2019 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference.

Exclusive to FGS attendees, this incredible offer is open to all who visit the Findmypast booth (#110) in the Vendor Hall of the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington DC, between August 21st and August 24th.

The autosomal tests, available to buy online at https://www.findmypast.com/ancestry-dna-testing/ for $89, come preloaded with a complimentary 14-day subscription to Findmypast’s vast archive of more than 9 billion historical records and newspaper articles.

Hungary Has the World’s Second Largest Percentage of Population with Jewish Ancestry

A new study conducted by MyHeritage in conjunction with expert statistician and demographer Dr. Daniel Staetsky has uncovered that there are surprising numbers of people descended from Jewish ancestors in Hungary — far higher than previously estimated by demographers.

Illinois Governor Signs Initiative to Protect Personal DNA Data

Illinois residents’ genetic testing results will now be protected under a new state law passed by state Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday.

“As technology advances, we have to update our laws to reflect ways it can be improperly used, and the personal data of private citizens is being used inappropriately every day,” Crowe said. “Keeping genetic information confidential is crucial to protecting a person’s right to privacy.”

IRS Allows Tax Breaks for Buyers of 23andMe Genetic Tests

Buyers of 23andMe Inc.’s genetic-testing kits will now have an easier time paying for the service with tax-advantaged health accounts after a favorable IRS ruling.

The decision offers more clarity to consumers and reduces the cost of the company’s service. It also highlights differences between the tax law’s permissive definition of medical care and health regulators’ more restrictive approach to direct-to-consumer testing products.

You can read the full story in an article in an article by Katherine Ellen Foley in the QZ.com web site at: http://bit.ly/2JM5b4F.

Investigative Genealogy has now Cleared an Innocent Man of Murder

A man who spent 20 years behind bars after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder, making him the first wrongfully convicted person cleared of a crime through the use of investigative genealogy. Now experts in this emerging field say the technique could be used to exonerate others who may have also been wrongly convicted.

Details may be found in an article by Salvador Hernandez in the BuzzFeed News web site at: http://bit.ly/2xQh0jI.

MyHeritage Announces an Update to the Theory of Family Relativity™

MyHeritage just refreshed all the data for the Theory of Family Relativity™, a method by which the company identifies probable relatives of yours, often people you may never heard of previously. The announcement states:

“With this exciting update, you’ll get new and updated theories that explain how you and your DNA Matches may be related. This much-anticipated update may provide you with answers about relationships that have baffled you, as well as offer new insights about your ancestors and family relationships.

The Genetic Genealogist Answers 9 Common Questions about DNA Testing

If you are unsure about all the facts surrounding DNA testing to prove the origins of your family tree, you need to read Sunny Morton’s interview of DNA expert Diahan Southard published in the LDS Living web site at: http://bit.ly/2Z8k0Uk.

It will be time well spent.

One comment: Read carefully section #2: How accurate are those ethnicity results?

“Ethnicity results are the most popular feature of DNA testing. However, they’re also the weakest part of the test, scientifically speaking. The good news is that ethnicity results are gradually getting more accurate and more specific. These changes sometimes cause confusion, though.”

Early 23andMe Customers Are Not Receiving the Latest Gene Chip Updates

From an article by Megan Molteni in the Wired news web site:

“If you were early to the 23andMe spit party, you’ve probably noticed that you haven’t gotten any new reports about your genes from the company in a while. Not like more recent customers, whose inboxes receive the results of such analyses on the regular—like one with more specific ancestry estimates, which came out last year, or this one, for risk of type 2 diabetes, which arrived in March.”

And also:

MyHeritage Expands to Health; Launches New DNA Test Offering Powerful and Personalized Health Insights for Consumers

MyHeritage today announced the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test, a major expansion of its DNA product line. The following is the announcement:

The new MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides comprehensive health reports for conditions affected by genetics including heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease

Tel Aviv, Israel & Lehi, Utah — MyHeritage, the leading global service for family history and DNA testing, announced today a major expansion of its DNA product line with the launch of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test. The test provides a new dimension of genetic insight with comprehensive health reports that can empower future health and lifestyle choices. It is a superset of the current MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test, and includes its pillar features: a percentage breakdown of ethnic origins and matching to relatives through shared DNA. MyHeritage is now the only global consumer DNA company to offer an extensive health and ancestry product in over 40 languages.

The launch of the Health + Ancestry product distinguishes MyHeritage as the only major service that bridges consumers’ past, present, and future: MyHeritage’s integrated suite of products enable users to discover their family history and ethnic origins, find new relatives, and receive valuable insights to help manage choices regarding their health that may impact their future well-being.

23andMe Moves into Researching in Medical Data, not just DNA

According to an article by Christina Farr that has been published in the CNBC web site:

DNA-testing start-up 23andMe is experimenting with a new way to collect a lot more health data from millions of its users than just their DNA.

The company is now asking a subset of customers if they’d be willing to incorporate their lab results, prescription information and medical history, after they’ve received the results from the genetic test. 23andMe, which has sold about 10 million at-home DNA testing kits, will be able to access that data if users let the company connect outside medical providers using a third-party medical data network called Human API.

Are You Unknowingly Forfeiting Your Genetic Privacy Rights?

From an article by Katherine M. Silverman, published in the Mondaq.com web site:

“The issue of genetic privacy is getting a lot of attention in the media lately, mainly due to the role DNA has played in identifying suspects in prominent “cold cases” like that of the Golden State Killer. But use of these “genetic genealogy” tools has raised concerns from privacy advocates who fear that genetic information shared on public genealogy databases could be misused. While “oversharing” personal information on social media has become par for the course, it’s important to think carefully about what information you’re publishing on the internet and who might have access to that information in the future.”

Also:

16 Gigabytes of Wikipedia Saved onto DNA Strands to Demonstrate New Storage Tech

From an article by Stephen Shankland in the C|Net web site:

“Computer storage technology has moved from wires with magnets to hard disks to 3D stacks of memory chips. But the next storage technology might use an approach as old as life on earth: DNA. Startup Catalog announced Friday it’s crammed all of the text of Wikipedia’s English-language version onto the same genetic molecules our own bodies use.

“It accomplished the feat with its first DNA writer, a machine that would fit easily in your house if you first got rid of your refrigerator, oven and some counter space. And although it’s not likely to push aside your phone’s flash memory chips anytime soon, the company believes it’s useful already to some customers who need to archive data.”

Beware of the Websites Selling Fake DNA Kits

An “epidemic” of counterfeit products being sold online is duping millions, according to the Better Business Bureau.

One woman thought she was buying a real AncestryDNA kit online, a gift for her parents and her 100-year-old grandmother in Puerto Rico. She found the DNA-testing kits on a website called ZoooDeals.com. After she paid $200 on her debit card, her relatives actually received authentic-looking kits. They followed instructions, filling vials with saliva and mailing them. But when she called the company to check on results, Ancestry told her the vial numbers were already used to test someone else’s DNA.

Announcing the Coalition for Genetic Data Protection

TheHill.com reports, “Genetic testing companies are forming a new coalition on best practices for handling DNA information and to promote the industry in Washington as lawmakers put more scrutiny on their privacy practices.” The new organization’s plan is to create reasonable voluntary guidelines for DNA privacy before lawmakers create their own less palatable laws that benefit no one.

As of January, more than 26 million consumers have added their DNA to the four leading commercial ancestry and health databases, believed to be Ancestry, 23andMe, MyHeritage, and Family Tree DNA, according to MIT Technology Review. However, the recent use by law enforcement use of the databases that is contrary to the stated purposes of these genealogy databases has created a lot of controversy.

MyHeritage DNA Kits Now on Sale in Costco in the UK and in Iceland

MyHeritage’s simple to use, at-home DNA tests to uncover ethnic origins and discover new relatives — are now on sale in 30 different Costco stores across the UK and Iceland. The kits are being offered in special new packaging designed specifically for Costco stores.You can read more in the MyHeritage Blog at: http://bit.ly/2ZCIaqd.

How 23andMe Will Mine its Giant DNA Database for Health and Wealth

Since the launch of DNA testing service 23andMe, around 10 million people have spit a half-teaspoon of saliva into a 23andMe plastic tube and mailed it in to get their ancestry or health-risk results. Nearly 5 million customers did so last year alone, generating an estimated $475 million in revenue for the company, which has yet to turn a profit. It’s also made CEO Anne Wojcicki (No. 33 on this year’s list of Richest Self-Made Women) worth an estimated $690 million, almost entirely from her roughly 30% stake in 23andMe, which is valued at $2.5 billion by investors.

While it might make interesting cocktail conversation to reveal that you are 5% Scandinavian and have a genetic disposition to sneeze in the sun, 23andMe’s ambitions are much grander.

National Geographic Society’s Genographic DNA Project to Shut Down

The National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project is shutting down. The project’s web site at https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/ states:

Genographic Project Update

The Genographic Project was launched in 2005 as a research project in collaboration with scientists and universities around the world with a goal of revealing patterns of human migration. Since then, nearly 1 million people have participated in The Genographic Project through National Geographic’s “Geno” DNA Ancestry kits. The public participation phase of this research project is ending and, as a result, effective May 31, 2019, Geno 2.0 DNA Ancestry kits are no longer available for purchase. If you have already purchased a kit, you may still send it in for processing in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of sale.

The Reasons Why GEDmatch Recently Changed Its Terms of Service

GEDmatch is a popular genealogy web site that contains more than 1.2 million completed DNA kits. It was used by many genealogists and, more recently, by law enforcement officials, most of whom were working on “cold cases” involving violent crimes, such as rape and murder. Use of GEDmatch first helped solve the so-called Golden State Killer case last April through a new forensic technique known as genetic genealogy. That case was soon followed by a number of other identification of the perpetrators of past crimes.

However, there was one problem: GEDMatch’s own terms of service didn’t allow police to use the site for assault cases or any other crimes that involve less serious crimes. Even worse, legal issues arose because the site did not have the informed consent of its users to make an exception to the terms of service.

23andMe is Updating Ancestry Results Without Telling Users

An article by Dan Robitzski in the Futurism.com web site at https://futurism.com/23andme-updating-ancestry-results states:

“If you took a genetic ancestry test through a company like 23andMe, you may want to go back and give your results a second look.

“That’s because as the company gathers more data and learns more about genetic trends, it may update the results for your specific DNA and change around where it believes your family came from, according to STAT News. While it makes sense that these companies would eventually hone in on more accurate results, the shifting reports can be a rude shock to people who used the app to figure out their personal identity — only to find, like 23andMe user Leonard Kim, that the results later shift without warning.”

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who reads this newsletter. I wrote an article a few weeks ago that describes the same thing with Ancestry.com’s test results: the company’s DNA ethnic origins reports changed as more and more information was added to the company’s findings of ethnic origins. You can find my earlier report at http://bit.ly/2DN6o8y and a follow-up article at http://bit.ly/2HxniKH.

Airbnb Partners With 23andMe to Make It Easier for People to Get In Touch With Their Roots

I am not sure I understand the logic of this. Perhaps Airbnb wants to promote genealogy research trips under the assumption that many of those traveling will stay in Airbnb-advertised guest facilities and also might have their DNA tested by 23andMe.

In any case, Airbnb and DNA-testing company 23andMe announced on Tuesday the two companies have partnered to help people “connect with their ancestry” through a heritage travel program.

An announcement by Jennings Brown on the Gizmodo web site cautions: