Segments in this Video

Direct to Consumer Tests (04:48)


IT Specialist Chelsea Rustad took an ancestry DNA test in 2015, revealing Norwegian and German heritage. She uploaded her raw file data to GEDMatch. In 2018, law enforcement connected her to a killer. Direct to Consumer tests use genetic principles to determine relationships in databases.

Discovering Family (04:14)

June Smith took a consumer DNA test in 2018, knowing her biological mother was a white woman who had another daughter. She was matched with Sigrid Gilchrist. They confirmed their sisterhood and formed a relationship.

Testing Technology (03:34)

Direct to Consumer tests use single nucleotide polymorphisms to match DNA. Testing companies such as Family Tree DNA use chips to hold genes, revealing their types with fluorescent dyes; they use the data for customers opting for family matching.

Discovering Heritage and Ancestry (05:03)

Dani Shapiro wrote books about her Orthodox Jewish family; a DNA test revealed she was half Western European. Her mother used a fertility clinic where her biological father donated sperm. Shapiro was inspired to write “Inheritance, A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love.”

Solving a Cold Case (03:44)

A million people have discovered family secrets through DNA testing. Rustad’s participation helped solve a homicide case. In 1987, Jay Cook and Tanya van Cuylenborg were murdered; law enforcement lifted the killer’s DNA from her body but did not have a match on file.

University Experiment and Database Flaws (08:02)

A West Chester University DNA testing experiment includes 14 racially diverse students. Direct to consumer DNA tests are Eurocentric, having less information in databases regarding Asians and Africans. Participants discuss their results.

Limited Medical Applications (06:25)

Some DNA testing companies offer genetic health risks searches; 23andMe offers a breast cancer test that detects three variations of risk indicators. Although some women have been alerted to high-risk status, others received incorrect diagnosis.

Privacy Trade Off (04:47)

In 2018, 23andMe shared customer information with GlaxoSmithKline to develop new drugs; the company claims 80% of clients gave their permission. Sociologist Alondra Nelson expresses concerns for privacy and property. Genealogist Barbara Rae Venter found the Golden State Killer in 2017 using genetic genealogy.

Finding Criminals (08:28)

Using genetic genealogy, investigators use Rustad and a cousin’s data to identify potential murderer William Earl Talbott. Police obtain confirmation DNA, making a match and an arrest. The system has found over 100 criminal suspects, but privacy and hacker vulnerability remain concerns.

Credits: Secrets in Our DNA (01:06)

Credits: Secrets in Our DNA

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Secrets in Our DNA

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Millions have sent their DNA to be analyzed by private companies, which are revealing customers' ancestry and family connections, and reporting health risks. But what are the pitfalls and unintended consequences of sharing genetic data?

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL240929

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

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