23 FROM ME
WELCOME TO YOUR NIGHTMARE
MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
It is funny how the holidays come and go and you forget to catch up on data that when you read it – you realize that maybe a follow-up show is in order.
So, there was a story I read in a science journal about DNA kits and how they were given to millions of people this last Christmas.
Right after Black Friday and the Cyber Monday of 2018, Ancestry.com boasted that it had shattered its November sales record thanks to the post-Thanksgiving surge.
Ancestry even claimed its AncestryDNA kits were the best-selling non-Amazon-branded product sold through Amazon on Cyber Monday for the second year in a row.
So it may be a little late to ask but did you get a 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and Ancestry DNA kit as a stocking stuffer?
Did you send it back or did you have the same rabid curiosity that Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren had about her Native American heritage?
23andMe has amassed more than 4 million genetic profiles from customers who’ve consented to be studied, one of the biggest genetic research resources in the US. And because most of those people fill out lots of surveys, each genetic profile comes attached to about 300 phenotypic data points — like how many cigarettes you’ve smoked during your lifetime or if anyone in your family has ever been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment.
While the company has doubled in size over the last two years, growing rapidly to mine that data for scientific discoveries, the sheer volume is too much for it to tackle on its own.
That’s why 23andMe has also been amping up its research collaborations with outside academics and they are expanding their DNA database worldwide.
They are now into the analysis business – not just the collecting business and now it is being revealed that this was the plan all along.
23and Me is now looking over applications for research projects twice a year and only accepts 10 percent of proposals.
It appears that if you want to join forces with the DNA collecting company you have to come up with a project that helps 23andMe’s bottom line.
The company is looking for projects that will grow its business — new statistical methods to extract even more information from each customer’s genetic profile, association studies to power new consumer reports, basically, anything that will make the 23andMe products, both the spit kits and its database more valuable.
Now, the company would like to extend their hand at encouraging people of color to use their kits.
Like almost every other genetic database in the world, 23andMe is overwhelmingly white.
That means that its ancestry reports vary in quality depending on the color of your skin. People of color won’t buy the kits because the results don’t tell them much, and the results won’t tell them much until more people of color have profiles in the database.
23andMe has recently begun subsidizing research projects that could fill in those gaps.
The latest is its Populations Collaborations Program, through which the company gives researchers free genotyping and DNA analysis services and up to $10,000.
They are moving into unsequenced places like Mongolia, Micronesia, and pretty much all of Africa and the Middle East. In return, 23andMe gets to add all that DNA to its database. The researchers don’t have to necessarily be geneticists to take the DNA from these individuals.
So not only are these companies analyzing DNA – they are now beginning bioharvesting operations in these countries.
Bio-harvesting and bioprospecting are two terms I never would have even guessed would be used in my lifetime.
Harvesting DNA from people in other countries sounds like some nightmare scenario from a science fiction novel.
It can be comparable to the story of Henrietta Lacks who never consented to having her tissues taken and were used around the world for health research.
In the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, we read that Lacks’ family never knew about it– even as the cells were used around the world in research, or when they themselves were asked for blood samples two decades later. The book described the indignity of the family’s ordeal even as giant corporations profited hugely from Lacks’ cells – known as HeLa in medical terms. Her children, again without their knowledge, had their medical records studied and even published.
A group of scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg published a paper in which they sequenced the entire genome of a HeLa cell – essentially putting Lacks’ DNA sequence up on the internet for all to see.
Amazingly, they failed to alert anyone in the Lacks family about their intentions or ask their permission.
Ever since 23andMe had announced that they struck a deal 300 million dollar deal with GlaxoSmithKline, in order to gain exclusive rights to mine 23andMe’s customer data for drug targets — many customers have been angry.
However, it has now been discovered that this was the deal all along – 23andMe was into bioharvesting, co-modifying DNA for the highest bidder.
23andMe, with its hybrid model, has been co-modifying health and genetic data for years as it wades further into the field of drug discovery.
In 2015, Forbes reported that the company had inked its first pharmaceutical company deal with Genentech, for $10 million up front, and up to $50 million if its data turned out to be useful for developing Parkinson’s treatments.
Pfizer signed a data-sharing agreement of its own shortly after. That was back when 23andMe had data from only 650,000 consented individuals in its proprietary database.
Its critics were unsure of the value of that information, self-reported as it was (and still is). But as the database has grown to the millions, differences in how customers interpret survey questions matter less and less to the company’s potential research partners.
To get that kind of health and behavioral information, 23andMe is continually pushing surveys out to its customers. A few questions here, a few questions there; it’s kind of like going on a first date every time you log on. And people love talking about themselves.
GSK’s $300 million investment, which 23andMe says is separate from the research collaboration, gives a good sense of just how valuable. Besides publicly disclosed deals with Genentech and Pfizer, 23andMe has also partnered with Lundbeck, Janssen, Biogen, and Alynlam Pharmaceuticals to share genetic analyses run on de-identified customer data.
According to Drabant Conley, those prior collaborations will continue unchanged. But for the next four years if GSK decides it wants to extend the deal—23andMe won’t be entering into any new partnerships focused on drug target discovery.
Even as it is adding an additional revenue stream in drug development, 23andMe’s future success is still dependent on growing its database with customers willing to participate in research. And that will mean staying in the public’s good graces. On Tuesday, a number of genetic testing companies, including 23andMe, pledged to protect customer privacy under a new set of voluntary guidelines they drafted in collaboration with Washington, DC-based nonprofit, Future of Privacy Forum. However, the new best practices won’t impact any of 23andMe’s medical research because there are no restrictions on the use or release of de-identified data.
It is nothing more than a meaningless gesture on their part.
In 2005, it was revealed in a book called “The Google Story,” that Dr. Craig Venter, known for his creation of synthetic life forms, was in discussions with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google to: ”Generate a gene catalog to characterize all the genes on the planet and understand their evolutionary development. Geneticists have wanted to do this for generations… Google will build up a genetic database, analyze it, and find meaningful correlations for individuals and populations.”
In 2006, 23andMe was founded.
Google already knows everything about you online, so once they link your DNA to your online Google profile, in the future every time law enforcement agencies find strains of DNA at a crime scene, they will check if Google has any records of the owner of this DNA strain and if so, get a complete online profile of that particular person.
There can also be a social DNA profile that can determine your risk for mental illness, or whether or not you qualify for certain drugs or should be denied certain foods or drugs. It will monitor what you buy sell and trade. It will know what to recommend if you are sick. It will be a huge help with new health care reform. It will use your Facebook history to make recommendations about pain medication, and medical recommendations specifically targeted to you.
There is always the chance that these big pharmaceutical giants can use the DNA to target certain individuals for biowarfare.
New and emerging diseases seem to generate some underlying panic brought on by political and economic design. The plagues, pandemics and even the proposed mass inoculations are connected to money generating operations. These plagues seem to be self-induced. Reported for the fear factor, and resolved by the government by creating more laws, and more provisions that will take away your freedoms.
During the recent Golden Globes, there was an uncomfortable moment where both hosts Andy Sandberg and Sandra Oh, in an attempt at humor told everyone that actors are like everyone else and so they are all going to get a flu shot.
Doctors and nurses were walking down the aisles attempting to stab actors with needles.
“And look, if you’re an anti-vaxxer, just put a napkin over your head and we’ll skip you!” Sanberg joked.
It was an awkward moment of not funny and the show cut to commercial.
It was later announced that the flu shots were fake.
However, this certainly raises the question if there was some sort of a pandemic or biological attack, would or could a vaccine be forced on you? Would there ever be conditions that would predicate the mandatory submission of your DNA?
The truth is more horrifying than you can imagine.
First of all, the President or some other governing body would have to declare a health emergency in order to utilize the utilitarian presidential privileges.
Upon this declaration, the President may put into play “The Model State Emergency Health Powers Act.”
Upon the declaration of a “public health emergency,” governors and public health officials would be empowered to:
• Force individuals suspected of harboring an “infectious disease” to undergo medical examinations.
• Track and share an individual’s personal health information, including genetic information.
• Force persons to be vaccinated, treated, or quarantined for infectious diseases. This includes arresting, imprisoning and forcibly examining, vaccinating and medicating you and your children without your consent. The government will not be held liable if these actions result in your death or injury.
A “public health emergency” can be declared not only for bioterrorism attacks, but also for epidemics, pandemic disease or natural disasters.
The terms “epidemic disease”, “pandemic disease” and “natural disaster” are not defined, leaving public health officials ample room for their own interpretation.
There are no limits on the number or types of tests that can be performed on individuals, or on the bodily specimens that can be collected.
Forced DNA and genetic testing are not excluded.
Public health officials can assume control of hospital and clinic operations. The government health officials can take control of communication facilities, food distribution, fuel supply, and real estate if needed.
The State is also authorized to ration of food, fuel, clothing, alcohol, firearms, and other commodities.
If there are extreme situations where certain directives warrant “soft kill” vaccines can be administered by your government.
The United States is not the only country where this can be implemented.
Nations all over the world have certain doomsday provisions wherein a national emergency a government can require certain individuals to volunteer DNA, medical records and blood tests in order to try and eliminate a biological threat.
This is one version of the apocalypse where a self-induced cull would have to happen in order to save a portion of the populace that is not affected by a disorder.
In the event of ecosystem collapse, or a massive species die-off – there could be a call for DNA bioharvesting studies on how it is affecting the populace.
History is full of examples where unknown diseases have decimated populations.
Using a DNA database can work for you and it can work against you in the wrong hands.
If there’s a gene for hubris, the 23andMe and other DNA harvesting sites have got it.
A genome service now has become a medical device. It has become a potentially dangerous eugenics device.
It is a mechanism meant to be a front end for a massive information-gathering operation against an unwitting public.
23andMe reserves the right to use your personal information, including your genome to inform you about events and to try to sell you products and services.
Insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms might be interested in getting their hands on your genetic information in order to create vaccines and biological weapons that could cull you from the population.
That all sounds too paranoid right?
With the DNA they have, they can tell you why you had dry ear wax in your ears last night or whether you’re likely to sneeze when you look at a bright light.
They can sequence a life form from your cells, they can find out why you laugh at certain things – why you cry, they can even sequence something that can make you die.
There have been questions as to why the company calls itself 23AndMe when we have 46 chromosomes per cell which, of course, is divided into 23 pairs.
So it is not just 23andMe – it is 23 pairs of chromosomes taken from me and you for bioharvesting reasons.