Monday, 21 October 2019
A petition has been started against an app from a Brussels company that claims to predict its users’ sexual preference based on a large-scale genetic study.
People that want to ‘discover how gay they are’ using the GenePlaza app only have to do a genome analysis of their DNA. A genomic analysis of DNA is the identification, measurement or comparison of genomic features such as DNA sequence, structural variation and gene expression. This can be done online, for example by ordering a toolkit at 23andMe, a Google subsidiary.
After the genome analysis results have come in, GenePlaza asks for a contribution of €5.50 to predict sexual orientation using their app ‘122 shades of gray’. The predictions are based on the controversial study on the heredity of sexual orientation that appeared in Science magazine at the end of August, reports NRC Handelsblad.
However, according to geneticists, GenePlaza is wrong. “How gay you are? This app is really not going to tell you,” said Abdel Abdellaoui of Amsterdam UMC, one of the authors of the Science study, reports Bruzz.
The researchers sent a letter to the company to ask them to remove any misleading information, and preferably take the entire app offline. “We made clear that our results and the genetic effect we found is visible in the population, but that it is not predictive on an individual level,” said Abdellaoui.
In the meantime, GenePlaza has placed a disclaimer saying that the authors of the science paper and the authors who released the raw data are not associated with the app, but still uses the data of the study.
The issue has also caused unrest in the LGBT community. One of the developers comes from Uganda and calls ‘sexual orientation and identity’ important topics in his native country. However, homosexuality is punishable by death in Uganda, and people fear that the results may be used as a reason to condemn someone.
American researcher Joseph Vitti of Harvard University started a petition in the hope that GenePlaza would withdraw the app. “To protect the Ugandans and all other people around the world,” the petition states.
The Brussels Times