Op-Ed

The University of California Berkeley has dropped plans to release personal genetic information to incoming freshmen, following instruction by state officials.

The educational program, called "Bring Your Genes to Cal," came under fire by the California Department of Public Health because of state rules prohibiting gene testing outside a medical setting.

Health officials ruled Wednesday that the university could not proceed because it failed to obtain a physician's order for each student and process samples at a state-approved lab for analysis. The laws are designed to assure accuracy and quality of medical tests.

About 700 of the 5,500 incoming students have already sent in samples, on a voluntary and anonymous basis, to participate in what was intended to be a way to teach students about the growing role of genetics in daily life. In addition to the tests, it planned to provide lectures and discussions with ethicists, statisticians, biologists and philosophers about gene testing.

At a Thursday news conference, UC Berkeley professor of genetics Jasper Rine said that while the university still plans to analyze the DNA samples in a...