Leah Lowthorp on Genetic Testing and Privacy–Why it Seems Like a Good Idea Until It’s Not

Biopolitical Times
photo of Leah Lowthorp

Former CGS staff Leah Lowthorp, now Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Folklore Studies at the University of Oregon, recently took to the Good ID Stories Instagram page to speak about genetic ancestry testing. The @goodidstories platform shares personal stories that highlight opportunities and risks associated with modern technology and digital identity.

In a six-part series of Instagram posts, Leah discusses genetic privacy and misuse, especially highlighting the inability of ancestry DNA tests to capture the nuances of an individual’s identity. Although the idea of a DNA test is alluring, Lowthorp maintains that “these tests don’t necessarily reveal much about your ancestry at all.”

All six parts of Leah’s story are linked below.

    •    Part 1 : “So when I first heard about genetic testing, I thought ‘Oh, this sounds great.’”
    •    Part 2 : “This is not just about you and your DNA...
    •    Part 3 : “The tests really essentialize identity...
    •    Part 4 : “But race is not genetic, and it’s not biological.
    •    Part 5 : “People don’t realize how high the stakes are...
    •    Part 6 : “But the DNA of Americans is still up for sale.

Leah previously worked with the Center for Genetics and Society as Program Manager and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, focusing on genetic technologies and the public’s perceptions of them. Her work includes a report on AncestryDNA’s marketing during the 2018 Winter Olympics and a piece about #CRISPRfacts as a tool to raise awareness and pierce the hype about the powerful new technology.