Genetic Testing for Careers in China

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genetic testing

The idea of genetic determinism is becoming ever more popular it seems. For example, a Colorado-based company Atlas Sports Genetics offers a test for variants of the ACTN3 gene which is allegedly associated with sports prowess, specifically whether or not a kid has a preponderance fast or slow twitch muscles. The idea is that a sports-mom or -dad armed with this genetic inform would be able to guide little Jimmy or Suzy into soccer or weightlifting.

Now CNN reports that Chinese parents are being offered genetic tests that will help them determine their children's future careers:

At the Chongqing Children's Palace, experts are hoping to revolutionize child-rearing with the help of science. About 30 children aged 3 to 12 years old and their parents are participating in a new program that uses DNA testing to identify genetic gifts and predict the future…

The test is conducted by the Shanghai Biochip Corporation. Scientists claim a simple saliva swab collects as many as 10,000 cells that enable them to isolate eleven different genes. By taking a closer look at the genetic codes, they say they can extract information about a child's IQ, emotional control, focus, memory, athletic ability and more…

For about $880, Chinese parents can sign their kids up for the test and five days of summer camp in Chongqing, where the children will be evaluated in various settings from sports to art. The scientific results, combined with observations by experts throughout the week, will be used to make recommendations to parents about what their child should pursue…

Dr. Huang [Xinhua, a leading scientist on the project] said the testing can even help project careers down the road.

Examining one child's results, he told CNN: "This child is very thoughtful and focused, so I suggest she go into management."

I particulary enjoyed the comment by one little girl in the article:

"I want to be the president of China," said three-year-old girl, Liu Xiao Liao. "Then people will be scared of me."

A gene test for power lust?

Genetic testing can provide some information about a person's proclivities, but what happens if Jimmy or Suzy also have genes for perfect pitch and would rather play the viola than chase after a ball? For example, since I am 6 feet 5 inches tall, my high school coaches begged me to play basketball. I said no, I would rather join the debate team. Genes are not destiny. By the way, my 23andme gene screen test tells me that I have alleles for normal height.