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Talking DNA Genetics Friends Family Conversation Starters

Talking DNA: 8 Conversation Starters

The Genome Company

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DNA and genetic testing are far-reaching, multi-layered topics.

When you add misinformation, things can get murky. What we know for sure is how important and consequential the topics are and that, soon, aspects of genomics will be part of everyday life.

So, next time you’re relaxing with friends or family, why not start a DNA conversation? The questions below are meant to help you do just that. After all, our goal is to get you talking about, and excited about, the world of genomics.

  1. When you say someone is “bananas,” you’re only 40% wrong.
    For real. How much DNA do you think we share with:

    a) Bananas    b) Mice    c) Chimpanzees    d) Other Humans

    Believe it or not, we share about 60% with bananas, 85% with mice, 96% with chimps, and more than 99.9% with other humans! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
     
  2. What do you find most interesting about DNA?
    The association with quirky traits like having a unibrow or hating cilantro? The connection to serious health issues or ancestry? Or the future possibilities of synthetic biology and genetic engineering?
     
  3. Nature or Nurture?
    Which do you think affects your health more?

    The truth is they go hand in hand. In some cases your genes carry more weight, for example, by making you resistant to a particular infection. In other cases, it's your lifestyle that plays the central role, as with diet and exercise. Both are important. Your well-being is a matter of nature plus nurture.
     
  4. DNA isn’t all sunshine and lollipops.
    If a genetic test could reveal your predisposition to a medical condition or sensitivity to a medication, would you want to know? Why or why not?
     
  5. Ok, what about DNA and privacy?
    Are you worried about the security of your genetic information?

    Not all genetic companies take your privacy seriously. Try Googling CLIA, CAP, HIPAA, GDPR, and GINA – acronyms that are crucial when it comes to whether or not, and how, your genetic data is protected.
     
  6. Your DNA is not yours alone.
    What if you found out some unfortunate genetic news that could affect your kids’ or another family member’s health? Would you be comfortable telling them? How would you bring up the subject.
     
  7. No one is about to become Superman or Wonder Woman.
    But if you could enhance one of your senses by 20%, would you? Which one, and why?

    We know this isn’t possible right now, but it’s very likely that in the future, genetic engineering will allow people to enhance themselves and their children.
     
  8. Would you rather…
  • Continue investing in ways to treat malaria, OR genetically modify mosquitoes to prevent the spread of the disease
  • Make babies the old-fashioned way, OR test and “fix” embryos to prevent disease?
  • Focus on applying biotechnologies to save our planet, OR explore how to enhance humans for life on Mars?

    (Of course these are not mutually exclusive.)

How we talk about science matters as much as the science itself.
We hope this guide helped get the ball rolling and uncovered some interesting perspectives.

Help us keep the conversation going...

  • Share your feedback and other important questions about DNA by using the hashtag #TalkingDNA on social media. To learn more about what we’re up to, follow Veritas Genetics on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Download and print this PDF to start the conversation with your family and friends!