Op-Ed

Under pressure from state public health officials, the professors behind UC Berkeley's controversial plan to genetically test incoming freshmen and transfer students said Thursday they will scale back the program so that participants will not receive personal results from their DNA samples.

The university raised the ire of genetic watchdog and privacy groups in May when it first launched "Bring Your Genes to Cal." The voluntary program is believed to be the largest genetic testing project at a U.S. university.

The 5,500 incoming freshman and transfer students for the fall semester received testing kits in the mail and were asked to submit cheek swabs of their DNA to kick off a yearly exercise to involve the new students in a common educational experience centered on a theme. This year's theme is personalized medicine.

Students were to receive personal information about three of their genes - those related to the ability to break down lactose, metabolize alcohol and absorb folates. This information was to be the basis of lectures and discussions on such topics as the ethical, social and legal interpretations...