The Baltimore Ravens: Bringing Biotechnology to the Mainstream

At-home genetic testing has grown more and more relevant in the last few years with companies like 23andme and Orig3n taking genetic tests from the lab to the local pharmacy. Biotechnological companies such as the two linked above have found a way to tap into the driving force of people: curiosity. Curiosity is what keeps shows like “Who Do You Think You Are” and websites like ancestry.com running because people are innately curious about their past, themselves, and how they ought to be living. With this growth in biotechnology, people now have the capability to check their DNA for signs of disease and even their religion. Coming off of the right intentions, having access to the inner threads of one’s DNA could be not all that bad, but from the opposite side, the realization that mailing a swab of your DNA to a lab in who knows where and being tested by who knows who, can definitely be off putting. Realizing privacy within the fourth industrial revolution has become harder and harder, and now, we are at a point where a person’s age, gender and health information can be shipped from a residential house to a lab without much question, and with the naïve intention of trying to figure out just how European their lineage really is.

One company, already mentioned above, that took this naivety of people and used it to their advantage was Orig3n. Being so convinced that Baltimore Ravens fans would be curious as to the makeup of their DNA, they partnered with the Ravens to hold a local “DNA Day” at the home stadium of the NFL team.

This, of course, did not go over too well with the Maryland Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration who both pulled the plug on this day before it even began. Looking back on this, Orig3n has decided not give up and is looking to reschedule this day as it is something that they, and Ravens fans supposedly, have been looking forward to doing for months. However, when it comes to asking for a cheek swab of a football fan coming into a public stadium, thinking that something like this does not concern governmental approval, is a little too confident by part of Orig3n.

The company has yet to offer a reason for why they believed “DNA Day” was going to be a good idea, why they have decided to pair with a football team to get it started and most importantly, for what they would be using these DNA samples for. Now why Orig3n thought it was going to be okay for hundreds of people to give up their DNA on a cotton swab without being given an explanation for it being done, is definitely sketchy at best. Since Orig3n has not come out with information about their plans for the DNA collection, based on their past tests offered through their website, it can be assumed that within a few months the hundreds of football fans who gave up their DNA will be given information about their skin aging, muscle force, language ability and vitamin D levels. As can be seen by this short list, none of these results would really influence a lifestyle change for anyone that is having these tests conducted and so, comes the question: why bother to do this at all.

The most this particular company can tell is that this person needs more get outside more and since this is not a significant amount of information that can be told through a strand of DNA, how is it that Orig3n has managed to lock a deal with a national football team? We are talking about a vast biotechnological industry full of companies that dominate the market simply because it can warn women that they are carrying the BRCA gene, or warn people for signs of genetic conditions and yet, the Ravens chose Orig3n. Since Orgi3n has yet to unlock the capability of warning someone of a serious disease or genetic condition it seems that they are looking into doing so, but, through Ravens fans that have no idea what they are in for.

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