DNA.Land initially started out as an academic research project, with the goal to crowdsource genetic data to use for advanced genetic research and discovery. In return, people that provided their DNA data were given ancestry, relations, and trait reports for free.
In September 2019, DNA.Land separated from academic and research institutes and became an independent, legal entity. However, it is still being run by the same founders; 3 scientists that studied at MIT, NYU, and Tel Aviv University.
The company still has the same structure as before the separation; crowdsourcing genetic data to advance medical research, among other things. However, with the separation from the academic institutes, they’ve removed the strict restrictions on genomic studies. This can pose a potential risk for your genetic data privacy. (Discussed further below)
DNA.Land doesn’t offer its own DNA Testing Kit, and only accepts kits from the following companies:
- Family Tree
- Genes For Good
In exchange for your genetic results, DNA.Land offers 3 simple reports for you to look at.
The Ancestry Report shows you a general breakdown of your genetic origins. Similar to 23AndMe albeit in a much simpler fashion, you’ll be shown percentages of different locations/ancestry groups that your DNA correlates to.
The Relative Finder Report gathers information from their collected database to determine if you have a relationship with anyone else that has submitted their DNA data to DNA.Land. This is a pretty limited report, as there is a low amount of users currently on the platform.
The Traits Report scans your genetic variants to predict certain trait likelihoods, like coffee consumption, eye color, or height. Although some traits might be accurate, many reviews have reported that a lot of their traits were actually wrong and inconsistent.
DNA.Land also uses imputation to generate data for your report. That means that it takes existing information from your genetic data, and then uses a statistical model to fill out any missing information, essentially “guessing” what is most likely there (without actually seeing it in your DNA file.)
All 3 of these reports are extremely simple and don’t really provide you with a wealth of knowledge that you can use outside the realm of DNA.Land.
This is expected, since they are giving you these reports free of charge. However, is it worth your DNA security and privacy?
DNA.Land has multiple points in their Confidentiality and Privacy section that you should be cautious about when deciding on whether or not you should upload your data or share your information.
They are clear in saying that they use your genetic data so that they can expand on medical research to determine gene association with certain diseases.
However, these are some points to consider regarding their consent page:
- They state that they may share aggregated data with other researchers or entities (no email or other personal information).
- They might share personal data with a selected number of partners of DNA.Land.
- If they are ever acquired, your personal data can be transferred to the acquiring party.
The final 2 points are especially important to consider if you’re worried that the privacy and safety of your DNA information might be in jeopardy.
As stated above, DNA.Land is free to use. All you have to do is upload your genetic information and in exchange you’ll receive the reports promised.
The benefits of DNA.Land is that it is free of cost and provides you with some information regarding your genetic data.
However, the non-monetary cost of giving up your private genetic information in return for minimal information regarding your genes seems a little hefty.
Granted, their current model on how they use your genetic data is not unethical, as they are using it to contribute to scientific research. However, their consent policy is very open-ended, so you can’t be assured that it’ll stay that way in the long run.
If you’re interested in contributing to medical research, then DNA.Land is a great platform to use. In the past, they’ve partnered with the National Breast Cancer Coalition to use their data to find a correlation with breast cancer.
However, if you’re looking to use DNA.Land to find your ancestry or learn about yourself, then DNA.Land probably isn’t for you.
The information given is limited, and in return you’re giving out your data for free use.