Op-Ed

The US Food and Drug Administration has called for regulation of companies selling personal genetic tests after one laboratory mixed up the results of nearly 100 clients.

The Silicon Valley company 23andMe, which uses personal genetic tests to predict hereditary diseases, last week said that it gave 96 clients inaccurate information after a lab error. The mistake left one client believing that her son was not her own, while another was led to understand that she was of African origin while the rest of her family is Caucasian.

The gaffe raised questions about the ethics and safety of personal genetic testing - a nascent industry - as doctors and advocates warned that inaccurate results could prompt patients to make potentially life-threatening changes to their medications. "There is a real risk in these mix-ups," said Jesse Reynolds of the Center for Genetics and Society. "Incorrect data can have serious implications, such as inaccurate beliefs about the potential to develop serious diseases and what medications one should take."

The company declined a request for interview but said on its website: "We fully...