The New Funeral Tradition: Preserving The DNA Of Your Loved Ones

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When a person’s time on Earth has passed, there are many options for what to do with the pieces of them that remain. There’s burial, cremation or even turning them into compost. And now, if you’re scientifically-minded, there’s DNA sampling.

SecuriGene, a Canadian biotech company, thinks you should be preserving the DNA of your loved ones to “celebrate life in its purest form,” but also to provide insights into your generic make-up should you want to analyze that DNA in the future.

“There isn’t anything else on the market that truly captures the full essence of a person besides DNA preservation,” Alex Wong, the company’s vice president of business development, told me. “Our DNA really makes up who we are.”

There are lots of practical reasons why you might want to hang on to a relative’s DNA after death: it could, for example, later lend insight into things like family history and hereditary disease. Wong told me that a big reason to preserve DNA now is simply that we don’t know what we might be able to learn from it in the future. Perhaps doctors will be able to use the DNA of your grandparents to determine a personalized course of medical treatment for you based on your family genetic history. What future technology will be able to extract from our genetic blueprints, we just don’t know.

There is, of course, a creepy dark side to choosing to preserve grandma’s genetics when she can’t weigh in on the decision — her DNA might reveal stories that she’s no longer around to tell and would really prefer not to. Often, people are surprised by revelations about traits like ethnicity when they test their own DNA. Sometimes DNA testing tears families apart.

But most people who preserve —> Read More

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