By Samuel W. Anderson

GeneWatch is a unique publication. We cover controversial issues, but we toe a difficult line between strictly objective journalism and single-minded advocacy. Just to left of this editorial (if you're reading the print layout), you'll find the fine print: "The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the staff or the CRG Board of Directors." Except, of course—as in this issue—when those people are contributing articles of their own.

The purpose of each issue of GeneWatch is not to simply report what's happening out there, nor is it to tell you what you ought to believe, even if some of the pieces on the following pages fall into those descriptions. As I see it, if you read an issue of GeneWatch front to back, you ought to have learned something; most importantly, you ought to have thought. If you read every page of GeneWatch and your preconceived opinions have not been challenged, we came up short. If you can read the entire issue and never find yourself in disagreement with an author, we haven't done our job.

That job might be more difficult if our Board of Directors held monolithic views. While CRG has published position papers on everything from gene patents to biocolonialism, opinions within the organization are nuanced to say the least. This issue—Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing—is a prime example.

You will find several articles by CRG Board members in the following pages, and you will hardly find a united front. Sheldon Krimsky targets the risks of allowing companies to market genetic tests to consumers without meaningful regulation; Paul Billings defends DTC testing as a tool to empower consumers to take a more central role in their own health care; Robert Green, with Jordan P. Lerner-Ellis and J. David Ellis, balances the potential risks and benefits and concludes that we simply don't have all the answers yet. CRG has historically taken a quite critical view of DTC testing, but as evidenced by the highly informed views of our own Board members and other contributors in this issue, such a complex topic cannot be boiled down to a thumbs up or thumbs down. It's easy to just tell someone what they ought to believe—which is why you won't find us doing it.

And if you've read this far and are still wondering "What exactly is direct-to-consumer genetic testing?" … well, I'm afraid you'll just have to read on. Go into it as a blank slate. Think about where you stand. And let me know if we made it too easy for you.

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