The FDA is shutting down personal genomics company, 23andMe. 23andMe is an innovator in the personal genomics industry, who is known for selling personalized genetic analyses for $99. The FDA claims that the potential that they could release inaccurate information about your DNA creates a public health risk, ergo the company must cease to operate.
It is worth taking a minute to read the letter the FDA sent to the company. The problem with the FDA’s letter is that its actions are ultimately a form of censorship of information. It is one thing to protect the public from a pharmaceutical that might cause harm – which is how the public generally perceives the FDA. It is another thing to prevent a consumer from voluntarily paying a company to perform scientific analysis of their own personal data, and provide them with information. If 23andMe’s actions are, in fact, criminal, then why doesn’t the FDA shut down all of the websites on the internet that could lead people to falsely diagnose their own symptoms of a physical ailment. Imagine the public outrage if the FCC and the FDA were to act to shut down WebMD. The internet freedom crowd would go ballistic.