24 Aug 2015

I just posted the following on Twitter:

CatalansDNA is obviusly a made up company and the whole thing was a joke. It was not a futile exercise however. All over the world ancestry companies like 23andMe and BritainsDNA have grown in the last years in paralell to the ‘democratization’ of the cost of genetic sequencing. For over a hundred pounds they offer to crack down your genetic code identifying your deep genetic ancestry, reveal your mitocondrial and Y-chromosome lineages, and ultimately tell you what percentage of your DNA comes from different regions from around the world. You may think that sort of information is interesting, it could be. The accuracy, precission and value of these tests, however, is greatly questionable. Some colleages nicknamed this kind of analyses as ‘genetic astrology’. The nickname is selfexplanable but you can find a LOT more information about it here.

Going back to the ficticious CatalansDNA company. Under the boiling political environment that is Catalonia, two pieces of news from the two main leaders of the Catalan independentism, Artur Mas and Oriol Junqueras, arose in the media last week. Both articles were old (2012 and 2008, respectively), interestedly rescued from forgiveness by doggy centrist journalists, and had something in common: in them the authors invoked genetic differences between Catalans and the rest of Spaniards to support their ideas in favor of independence. I think that hiding political or identitarian ideas behind a mask of alleged genetic identity is a dangerous enterprise. But I started thinking about how many people in Catalonia (and abroad) would be actually interested in a test of Catalan ancestry anologous as the one I was suggesting on my tweets. My guess is a lot. A huge market opportunity for a genetic ancestry company.

Maybe I should start one after all.