Ethics of buying DNA

Julian J. Koplin, Jack Skeggs, Christopher Gyngell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


DNA databases have significant commercial value. Direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies have built databanks using samples and information voluntarily provided by customers. As the price of genetic analysis falls, there is growing interest in building such databases by paying individuals for their DNA and personal data. This paper maps the ethical issues associated with private companies paying for DNA. We outline the benefits of building better genomic databases and describe possible concerns about crowding out, undue inducement, exploitation, and commodification. While certain objections deserve more empirical and philosophical investigation, we argue that none currently provide decisive reasons against using financial incentives to secure DNA samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-406
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Commodification
  • Direct-to-consumer genetic testing
  • DNA databases
  • Exploitation
  • Genomics

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