Op-Ed

Stores already are putting up their gift displays for Mother's Day. And consumers have turned their fashion attention to the latest in spring and summer wear.

Now you can add a highly personal item to the list of products generating retail buzz: the first off-the-shelf paternity testing kit.

Identigene, a business unit of the Sorenson Genomics laboratory in Salt Lake City, caught the media's attention nationally when it recently announced the DNA Paternity Test Collection Kit is available in 4,363 Rite Aid stores in 30 states, including California, and the District of Columbia. The kit costs $30 or less, but there's an additional $119 charge for the lab processing of the DNA samples (which are collected by cheek swabs).

Reaction has ranged from curiosity about consumer demand to concerns about the overall amount of self-administered DNA testing - for a variety of purposes - that's growing in use. Companies already sell various tests online, including paternity kits, which Identigene began selling through the Internet more than 10 years ago.

Staff members at the Genetics and Public Policy Center of John...