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Pentagon tells military personnel to avoid commercial DNA tests

2019-12-26 17:50 by
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In an internal document obtained by Yahoo News, the United States Department of Defense informed the Armed Forces they're banning all at-home DNA kits due to "personal and operational risks." With this ban in effect, the Pentagon hopes to protect medical information for more than 2 million service members around the world.

"These DTC (Direct to Consumer) genetic tests are largely unregulated and could expose personal and genetic information, and potentially create unintended security consequences and increased risk to the joint force and mission," they said in the memo distributed last Friday to senior military and defense leaders.

"Moreover, there is increased concern in the scientific community that outside parties are exploiting the use of genetic data for questionable purposes, including mass surveillance and the ability to track individuals without their authorization or awareness," they wrote.

In addition, the Pentagon advised the Armed Services that at-home DNA kits are not reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So the medical information displayed in results might not carry a high level of validity. Pentagon officials are heavily concerned with security, but service members should also be aware of the unconfirmed results issued by companies like 23andMe and Ancestry.

23 and Me, a prominent home DNA testing company, said in a statement that it takes the "utmost efforts" to protect privacy while ensuring accurate results that government regulators have authorized. It further said it does not share any information with third parties unless the customer gives consent.

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