retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times this morning reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will for the first time allow a company - in this case, 23andMe - to sell genetic tests that will allow consumers to determine their vulnerability to 10 diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

According to the story, the decision is a reversal of a position taken in 2013, when the FDA concluded that, in essence, 23andMe's marketing had gotten ahead of the science. It is "expected to open the floodgates for more direct-to-consumer tests for disease risks, drawing a road map for other companies to do the same thing."

The Times writes that "customers will have to specifically say that they want that information. The company’s website offers links to genetic counselors for those who are weighing whether to be tested. If they want those results they will be included at no extra charge, though patients have to pay for the counseling separately."

The story goes on: "The process for customers is simple. A customer spits into a tube and then mails it to 23andMe. The company’s lab extracts DNA from the saliva cells and tests it with probes that find genetic markers using a special chip for genotyping. In about six to eight weeks the company sends the customer an email saying the results are in. By logging onto an online account, the customer can see the report and its interpretation."
KC's View:
The industry has been circling around this concept for a number of years, and I've always believed there is enormous potential here for food retailers that now can offer - to consumers who are interested - food-related approaches to dealing with certain disease states. Nutrition can't solve every problem, but it certainly can go a long way toward a holistic approach to preventing and dealing with disease. I'm glad to know that the science has caught up with the marketing, and expect that we are only at the beginning of being able to use science to known more than we ever have before.