Wendy Roth was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal to provide insight on consumer DNA tests; the article discusses the complexities that have arisen from the growing popularity of these products.
After consumer DNA tests took off, customers have found themselves armed with increasingly specific details about their historical relatives. People don’t just have European ancestry; it can be broken down into a British or German component. Or they may be told their ancestry traces to Congo, not only Africa.
The information is based on migration patterns that happened thousands of years ago, through regions and among populations whose names, members, and borders have changed, says Wendy D. Roth, associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, who studies the effect of DNA tests on racial and ethnic identity. “But the tests present it as if it determines who you are today,” she said.