Ancestry, other dna-testing companies admit limitations in analyzing various ethnic groups mcclatchy washington bureau r studio data recovery serial key

Ancestry built its ethnicity reference panel from a DNA database compiled by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, which, from 2000 to 2012, collected DNA samples from roughly 100,000 people worldwide. The goal of the foundation, launched by the late Utah billionaire James L. Sorenson, was to demonstrate how people of the world are related to each other.

But the foundation’s international sampling was far from comprehensive. China and other countries have restrictions on taking DNA out of the country, which limited the number of samples taken from that part of the world. Moreover, the Sorenson foundation had a particular focus on regions where the bulk of the U.S. population originated, said Woodward, who served as the foundation’s executive director for 12 years.

For some African-Americans, Ancestry’s analysis is superior to that of other companies.


Megan Rose Dickey, a writer for TechCrunch, was impressed last year that Ancestry could give her percentage estimates of how much of her DNA came from what is now Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal, instead of lumping it all in as from "West Africa."

Yet others have been less satisfied. When Chinese-Americans take Ancestry DNA tests, they generally learn they have a high percentage of "Asia East" DNA, a category that includes all of China — which has more than 50 ethnic minorities and one fifth of the world’s population — and several neighboring countries.

Defenders of DNA testing say it has sparked healthy conversations about heritage, and has furthered family discoveries. Because of DNA testing, orphans have tracked down biological parents. A Vietnam war veteran learned of a son born in Vietnam and later met him for the first time. A daughter learned that her parent’s fertility doctor was her father, having deceptively used his own sperm to impregnate her mother, according to a lawsuit filed in Idaho.

But DNA testing, and the way it is interpreted, also may be reinforcing racial stereotypes, according to a 2014 report published in Social Psychology Quarterly. "An unintended consequence of the genomic revolution may be to reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences," the report’s authors said.

"The whole idea of what is a race biologically is still pretty problematic," he said. "We can take all of the humans on the earth, and we are essentially one big species. The amount of variation, the amount of uniqueness from one population to another population is pretty small compared to the overall."

For their part, Ancestry officials say they are constantly reevaluating how they market their services and present DNA results to customers. Ball said the company wants to diversify the samples its uses in the ethnicity reference panel, but collecting such samples internationally can be problematic.

In 2016, investors launched a Chinese company called WeGene, promising a more granular analysis of ethnicity for people of Chinese and Asian backgrounds. Customers who have had their DNA analyzed by Ancestry or 23andMe can load their raw data onto the WeGene site, and get a more breakdown of their ancestry, whether it be Han Chinese, Hmong, Tibetan, Dai or other ethnic groups.

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