California Licensing Genetic Testing
California has become the first jurisdiction in the world to require companies to be formally licensed before they can offer genetic testing directly to consumers. Genetic testing has been used for several years in criminal cases and for paternity suits, but the availability of genetic testing through the Internet for people wanting to trace their ancestry has prompted California to act over concerns about the validity and accuracy of such tests. Privacy matters pertaining to genetic tests have also been cited as an issue.
As reported by the New York Times, of the thirteen companies that were sent “cease and desist” letters in June, two have already received licenses and two additional firms have applied for licenses. While California continues to review its regulations regarding online genetic tests, companies that have not been licensed will be banned from soliciting business from California residents.
New York State has issued similar cease and desist orders against 31 genetic testing firms that do business over the Internet. Although genetic testing for people trying to find their roots is still in its infancy, California’s actions will almost certainly give people pause for thought before purchasing such tests.