Last Wednesday, July 25, genetics-testing company 23andMe announced that they’re partnering with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. From 23andMe’s blog (emphasis mine):

I hear regularly from customers that they want to be part of a solution that is improving health care. We all have some disease or health issue that we care about. 23andMe has created a research platform to enable customers to actively participate in research — to not wait for solutions to appear, but for people to come together and make discoveries happen.  By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs. Our genetic research — powered by millions of customers who have agreed to contribute — combined with GSK’s expertise in drug discovery and development, gives us the best chance for success.

Note the bolded phrase: “powered by millions of customers who have agreed to contribute.” This is technically true. Agreeing to 23andMe’s (typically murky) privacy policy does mean consenting to the company’s use of your genetic data however they see fit, but thus far that usage has been limited to, effectively, pattern analysis. Surely, few, if any, 23andMe customers realized they would be paying a company to then sell their data with the goal of developing new pharmaceutical drugs.

Genetics-testing companies like 23andMe are fairly popular in the Paleo world. In fact, this magazine has been considering publishing a roundup of such companies and services for some time. And while a great deal of good has undeniably come from these services (who doesn’t want to know their genetic heritage, for example, or whether they’re at increased risk for certain cancers, or even their body’s particular rate of caffeine metabolism?), and even from their sharing of genetic data (the recent use of data from GEDMatch to catch the Golden State Killer, for example), something tells me Paleo folks aren’t going to be too happy knowing their genetic data is actively being used to give Big Pharma an edge. Not to mention that, if you’re genetic data is being used in drug testing, you should be being paid for it, not the other way around.