What is EDNA and Why is Genetic Data and Privacy So Valuable?

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EDNA is a very ambitious and potentially groundbreaking blockchain project that functions on the EOS, TELOS, and Worbli networks. It is a young project but it attempts to solve several important real-world problems. As a professional working in genetics research, this is a project I am incredibly interested in and one that I have very high hopes for. It’s something that I know is absolutely needed because I have firsthand experience with some of the issues at hand. Given how we’re still just on the forefront of blockchain technology and genetic sciences, the potential for EDNA is enormous. In a sea of vaporware, scams, whitepaper projects, ICOs, and thousands of tokens with no real utility (most of the blockchain market), it is refreshing to find a project with clear goals, technology, and an actual purpose for its tokens that makes sense. I would also like to explicitly state that I am not on the EDNA team nor was I paid or asked to do this review. Having said that, let’s take a look at everything EDNA is and why I’m so excited.

Overview:

In order to understand what EDNA does we first need to understand two somewhat complicated topics:
(It’s pretty lengthy so feel free to skip ahead if you already know about them)

1) Blockchain: what it is, how it works, and why it’s such a remarkable technology.

2) Genetics: What are genes, DNA, genetic testing, genetic data, and why it’s so valuable.

Blockchain and Bitcoin

Wikipedia definition: A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data.

Blockchain and Bitcoin are often used interchangeably but that is not entirely accurate. Blockchain and Bitcoin have the same creator but blockchain was developed as a new technology that would allow Bitcoin to function as intended. The intention was to create a peer-to-peer transaction network for electronic currency (Bitcoin). They wanted to remove the middle-man and give the owner sole autonomy of their funds. The solution was the blockchain. It acts as a ledger that records all transactions on blocks that are confirmed by the network. The result is a system of secure/encrypted public transactions that are fast, inexpensive, private, and give the owner of the currency complete control over their own funds. No individual, bank, government, or entity can access or freeze your funds. In general, this is how it works: everyone has a public address, an example of which looks like this: 1EjqMGa5j6JNQDMNXkrRZq7WSmqLRzn9fU. You receive funds at your own public address, and anyone can see what those funds are. However, only you can access these funds through the use of a private key that you hold (a 32-bit word). When you want to send funds to someone, they tell you their public address, and you can see what funds they already have stored at that public address. When you send funds, you enter your key to initiate the transaction and in doing so, you announce to the entire Bitcoin network that the funds that you own now belong to the recipient’s public address. Everyone can see, as a matter of public record that the ownership of funds has moved from your public address to their public address. Once this announcement is made and confirmed by the network, the transaction is complete and becomes irreversible.

Understandably, people are often confused by this public yet private aspect of blockchain. An example that may help better illustrate this is to think of a really big college class where professors post grades or test scores on a bulletin board somewhere. The sheet had all the grades and the ID number of the students they correspond to. Since no one else knew your ID number, only you knew which score was yours. The scores were public yet private. Now, another important thing to understand about blockchain is that cryptocurrency is only one application of it. The very same technology and concept can be applied to almost anything: supply chains, digital IDs, data, copyright protections, voting, real estate and auto titles, record-keeping, wills, and yep, genetic data.

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Genetics

So now that we have a general understanding of blockchain, let’s move on to genetic science. As previously stated, this is a field of study that’s still very new and one that the average population knows little about. I will try to explain it as best I can. First, let’s differentiate between three words that are often mentioned in regards to genetics: DNA, chromosomes, and genes.

DNA is a molecule which stores genetic information — like the color of your eyes, or whether you have earlobes or not. Every cell in your body contains the same DNA which serves as the instruction manual for that cell. DNA is composed of four bases — adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). The sequence of these bases determine the genetic makeup of an organism. The total DNA which is stored in each cell is called your genome. Half of your genome is from your mother and half is from your father.

A chromosome is a division of that genome, just like a chapter is a division of a book. So each chromosome is a chunk of DNA. In humans you have 46 chromosomes, 23 from your mother and 23 from your father.

Genes are smaller sections of DNA and there are many on each chromosome. A gene is a set of instructions on how to make one protein (molecular machine that does a task in the cell). They are like a single sentence or maybe a paragraph in a book. The human genome consists of approximately 24,000 genes.

Summary: Each Cell contains a nucleus, the nucleus contains chromosomes, chromosomes contain our DNA, and DNA is comprised of segments of genes. Picture a very large instruction or assembly manual: DNA would be the entire manual, chromosomes would be chapters, and genes would be specific sentences or phrases. As a whole, the manual tells our cells exactly how to function and how to “build” the organism as you would build a table or shelf with an instruction manual. Another good analogy is picturing DNA as computer code and the organism as a software program that is running based on the code.

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Historical Timeline:

If you were born after 1990 it’s probably a good bet to assume you knew at least some of this already. Either you learned it at school or perhaps you saw it explained in a movie or TV show. As such, it’s often easy to forget how recent our understanding and progress of genetics has been — we are still very much on the forefront of the science. Here’s a timeline to give you an idea:

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Current State of Genetics

I would like to focus on four of the most recent and significant advancements in genetics:

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS): WGS is a comprehensive method for analyzing entire genomes. This entails sequencing all of an organism’s chromosomal DNA and provides the most complete picture of your genetic makeup — all 24,000 genes in your genome. It should not be confused with other types of partial sequencing such as DNA profiling, whole exome sequencing, or therapeutic gene panels.

Whole Exome Sequencing (WES): Not to be confused with WGS. Instead of sequencing your entire genome, WES instead focuses on just the protein coding sequences. This ends up being only between 1.5% and 2% of your entire genome.

Targeted Sequencing: This is more or less what it sounds like. Instead of looking at your whole genome or exome, this type of sequencing looks at only specifically targeted genes. This is useful if your doctor suspects a particular mutation or if they have a general idea of the problem.

CRISPR: CRISPR technology is a simple yet powerful tool for editing genomes. It allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops.

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Current Applications of Genetic Data

Healthcare: WGS has largely been used as a research tool but is currently being introduced to clinics. In the future of personalized or precision medicine, whole genome sequence data may be an important tool to guide therapeutic intervention. By having your genome sequenced as an infant (or adult), physicians and scientists would be able to identify gene mutations and would know what types of illnesses you’re predisposed to or are at risk of developing. For example, a WGS may find genetic mutations that are known to lead to cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, etc. By identifying this risk before the illness begins to fully manifest or express itself, your treatment prognosis becomes much more promising. Even if you’re healthy, you may still be carrier for a mutation and by analyzing the genetic data, physicians and genetic counselors would be able to tell you the exact likelihood of your future children having and/or expressing the inherited mutation. Overall, your healthcare team would have a complete picture of you as an individual and can tailor their treatment specifically to you and your genetics. Considering these huge advantages and the constant advancement of the science and technology, I genuinely believe that genetic testing will play a crucial role in everyday healthcare in the very near future. This is a statement from The National Human Genome Research Institute:

Having the essentially complete sequence of the human genome is similar to having all the pages of a manual needed to make the human body. The challenge to researchers and scientists now is to determine how to read the contents of all these pages and then understand how the parts work together and to discover the genetic basis for health and the pathology of human disease. In this respect, genome-based research will eventually enable medical science to develop highly effective diagnostic tools, to better understand the health needs of people based on their individual genetic make-ups, and to design new and highly effective treatments for disease.

Individualized analysis based on each person’s genome will lead to a very powerful form of preventive medicine. We’ll be able to learn about risks of future illness based on DNA analysis. Physicians, nurses, genetic counselors and other health-care professionals will be able to work with individuals to focus efforts on the things that are most likely to maintain health for a particular individual. That might mean diet or lifestyle changes, or it might mean medical surveillance. But there will be a personalized aspect to what we do to keep ourselves healthy. Then, through our understanding at the molecular level of how things like diabetes or heart disease or schizophrenia come about, we should see a whole new generation of interventions, many of which will be drugs that are much more effective and precise than those available today.

Research: There is a ton of research going on with WGS and CRISPR as well as in the development of better technology and methods. However, I would like to focus on the research that is looking at specific gene mutations and variations. Let’s say someone finds out that they have a really rare genetic mutation (e.g. 1 in 1,000,000 occurrence rate). This means there are only about 7,500 people in the world who have that mutation. As a researcher who’s set on understanding this illness better, you would likely need to enroll as many of these 7,500 individuals as possible in a study and do WGS in order to produce concrete findings. However, these 7,500 individuals are likely in different parts of the world so getting access to them is often very difficult. In short, data (genetic data in this case) is like gold to researchers.

Third Parties: There are two types of genetic private companies that come to mind: companies that offer genetic testing for clinics and hospitals such as GeneDx and companies that offer novel genetic services like Ancestry and 23andMe. The clinical testing offered by private companies range from $2500 for Exome (not complete genome) and up to $20,000 for a full genome sequence. Most of those costs are not for the sequencing itself but for the manpower required to operate such a business (technicians, analysts, scientists, doctors, managers, lawyers, executives, etc.). The worst part is that insurance usually refuses to pay for these services even if they are requested or ordered by a physician. The novel testing offered by Ancestry and 23andMe usually range between $99 and $200 but as I will explain in this next section, there is a lot more to this type of testing than consumers are usually aware of.

Private Genetic Data Companies

Ancestry: Ancestry currently offers their DNA Kit for $99. It’s pretty easy to do, you just mail in a saliva sample and wait a few weeks for your results. They currently have over 3 million subscribed members and their DNA database consists of over 15 million unique samples (largest in the world). In 2017 their revenue exceeded $1 billion. According to their website:

AncestryDNA® is a new DNA testing service that utilizes some of the latest autosomal testing technology to revolutionize the way you discover your family history. This service combines advanced DNA science with the world’s largest online family history resource to predict your genetic ethnicity and help you find new family connections. It maps ethnicity going back multiple generations and provides insight into such possibilities as: what region of Europe are my ancestors from, or am I likely to have East Asian heritage? AncestryDNA® can also help identify relationships with unknown relatives through a dynamic list of possible DNA member matches.

You might have noticed there is no mention of WGS or clinical relevance. In other words, the results you get are completely useless for your healthcare. It is also important to note that Ancestry is actually taking a loss during each sale. Each test costs more than $99 to run. However, they are not stupid and there is a very good business reason for this which leads me to one of the biggest issues with these types of companies: They keep and sell your data to researchers (remember how I said they often have trouble collecting samples from the population they want? Well, this is often how they obtain those samples) and other private companies. They sell each sample for around $350. It gets better. They sell each sample multiple times to different researchers and companies which ends up totaling to tens of thousands of dollars of profit off your genetic data. This is their business. They’re a data collection company disguised as a fun and wacky novelty business. Most people are surprised to learn this and rightfully so, there’s no obvious mention of this anywhere on their website. You have to dig through their terms of agreement in order to start deciphering it and even then, they don’t explicitly state that they’re making profit off your genetic data and they certainly don’t tell you how much profit they can make from it. Here’s a section straight from their agreement:

We share your Genetic Information with research partners only when you provide us with your express consent to do so through our Informed Consent to Research. Research partners may include commercial or non-profit organizations that conduct or support scientific research, the development of therapeutics, medical devices or related material to treat, diagnose or predict health conditions. In some circumstances, a research partner or Ancestry may have a financial interest in the research arrangement.

It also goes further than this. Here’s the legal agreement (this will apply later):

We may share your Personal Information if we believe it is reasonably necessary to:

Comply with valid legal process (e.g., subpoenas, warrants);

Enforce or apply the Ancestry Terms and Conditions;

Protect the security or integrity of the Services; or

Protect the rights, property, or safety, of Ancestry, our employees or users.

If we are compelled to disclose your Personal Information to law enforcement, we will do our best to provide you with advance notice, unless we are prohibited under the law from doing so. In the interest of transparency, Ancestry produces a Transparency Report where we list the number of valid law enforcement requests for user data across all our sites.

I will include links to full agreements in the reference section.

23andMe: Pretty much the same as Ancestry with a few more novelties. They have analyzed over 5 million samples worldwide. In addition to providing you with a complete picture of your ethnicity, they also provide you with a health predisposition report (tells you if you are at risk for certain illnesses such as Parkinson’s and Type 2 Diabetes) for an extra fee. They also have a report for traits (e.g. eye color, earlobes, freckles, etc.), wellness (e.g. muscle composition), and carrier status (if you’re carrying a gene for an illness that you don’t express but can potentially pass down to your kids). This all sounds pretty cool but here’s the thing; the test results are mostly useless. 23andMe is not sequencing your genome, but running relatively cheap single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping assays (same as Ancestry). Many crucial parts of the genome may not form part of the assay — this limits the number of conclusions that can be made and any conclusions are only as robust as the data-set behind them. In fact, SNP tests only sequence about 0.10% of your genome. If you don’t believe me, take your 23andMe report to your doctor and watch them either roll their eyes or laugh at it. Don’t take my word for it though. Here’s their fine print:

The 23andMe PGS test includes health predisposition and carrier status reports. Health predisposition reports include both reports that meet FDA requirements for genetic health risks and the 23andMe Type 2 Diabetes health predisposition report which is based on 23andMe research and has not been reviewed by FDA. The test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks and reporting carrier status. It is not intended to diagnose any disease. Your ethnicity may affect the relevance of each report and how your genetic health risk results are interpreted. Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person’s overall risk of developing the disease. The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment. Our carrier status reports can be used to determine carrier status, but cannot determine if you have two copies of any genetic variant. These carrier reports are not intended to tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future, the health of your fetus, or your newborn child’s risk of developing a particular disease later in life. For certain conditions, we provide a single report that includes information on both carrier status and genetic health risk. Warnings & Limitations: The 23andMe PGS Genetic Health Risk Report for BRCA1/BRCA2 (Selected Variants) is indicated for reporting of the 185delAG and 5382insC variants in the BRCA1 gene and the 6174delT variant in the BRCA2 gene. The report describes if a woman is at increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and if a man is at increased risk of developing breast cancer or may be at increased risk of developing prostate cancer. The three variants included in this report are most common in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and do not represent the majority of BRCA1/BRCA2 variants in the general population. This report does not include variants in other genes linked to hereditary cancers and the absence of variants included in this report does not rule out the presence of other genetic variants that may impact cancer risk. The PGS test is not a substitute for visits to a healthcare professional for recommended screenings or appropriate follow-up. Results should be confirmed in a clinical setting before taking any medical action. For important information and limitations regarding each genetic health risk and carrier status report, visit 23andme.com/test-info/

Lastly, they also follow the same business practice as Ancestry in that they sell your genetic data to third parties and researchers while all you get in return is useless data. Check out this article titled “23andMe Is Sharing Its 5 Million Clients’ Genetic Data with Drug Giant GlaxoSmithKline”:

https://www.livescience.com/63173-23andme-partnership-glaxosmithkline.html

You may be confused by this if you’ve ever seen this statement on their website:

23andMe will not sell, lease, or rent your individual-level information to any third party or to a third party for research purposes without your explicit consent.

The trick lies in the phrase “without your explicit consent”. One might assume this means that if they want to sell your data, they would contact you first and ask for permission each time but no, you agree to all of this when you initially accepted their research consent.

FamilyTreeDNA: This is the lesser known of the bunch but they’re not much different. Same business model: take your genetic data, tell you something fun and useless about yourself, and then sell the data many times over. Except they added a new offense to their playbook (as hinted earlier): they provided the FBI with over 2 million of their customer samples. This is a blatant violation of our privacy rights as well as an encroachment on due process.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-01/major-dna-testing-company-is-sharing-genetic-data-with-the-fbi

Summary: These companies take your genetic data, analyze only about 0.10% of your genome, they tell you something fun about yourself, then turn around and make thousands of dollars by selling your data to other third parties. They all claim they will never do this without your consent but most people unknowingly give their consent by accepting their terms of agreement. The precedent set by FamilyTreeDNA working with the FBI is also especially dangerous territory.

Summary of the Problems and What We Need

So (much as with the development of Bitcoin) we now have a basic understanding of our conclusions and the problems we currently face:

1) Genetic data is incredibly valuable to our healthcare but it is difficult to obtain clinically validated results.

2) Researchers have difficulty accessing and collecting the appropriate samples in order to develop new cures and treatments.

3) WGS done by third parties is extremely expensive and insurance often refuses to cover it.

4) Private companies are taking your data and selling it many times over for huge profits without informing upfront in an explicit manner and without giving you any portion of the profits.

5) Private companies run relatively cheap SNP tests which only sequence around 0.10% of your entire genome.

6) Private companies’ decisions are made by a small group of executives and we usually just have to trust in them to be objective and not to screw us over.

7) Third party companies should not be trusted to maintain our privacy (e.g. FamilyTreeDNA, Google, Facebook, etc.) Given how comprehensive genetic data is (remember, it’s your entire blueprint), privacy, security, and ownership of data should be of the utmost importance. Furthermore, although Ancestry and others do give you access to download your own data, this is done through rather unsecure means which puts you at risk when downloading it to your computer.

Solution: EDNA

Finally, this is where EDNA comes in and attempts to solve all 6 problems. Let’s take it one by one:

1) Problem: Genetic data is incredibly valuable to our healthcare but it is difficult to obtain clinically validated results.
EDNA Solution: EDNA used rapid WGS technology in a state-of-the-art lab to provide comprehensive and accurate genetic results. This is the same technique researchers are currently using and the same process that has started to be implemented within hospitals.

2) Problem: Researchers have difficulty accessing and collecting the appropriate samples in order to develop new cures and treatments.
EDNA Solution: EDNA is creating a system and platform for researchers to purchase individual data directly from individuals instead of buying it from third party companies like Ancestry. Essentially, the middleman is being removed from the equation. Users can set their own prices and sell at their own discretion. Researchers would be able to search and filter for specific genes and illnesses.

3) Problem: WGS done by third parties is extremely expensive and insurance often refuses to pay.
EDNA Solution: EDNA will send you a sample kit and once you mail it back with a saliva sample, they will provide you with WGS for about $1000. Although $1000 is much cheaper than $20,000, it is likely that it will still be too expensive for many people, however, EDNA has a solution for that as well. Users can lease/borrow EDNA tokens from token holders using a smart contract on the EOS network to pay for the service. Once the user receives their results and starts selling their data, they will repay the leaser using those profits along with an agreed upon and smart-contract managed return. Furthermore, WGS should get less expensive and more accessible as the technology advances.

4) Problem: Private companies are taking your data and selling it many times over for huge profits without informing upfront in an explicit manner and without giving you any portion of the profits.
EDNA Solution: This is pretty straight-forward. By owning your own data, you have full control of who receives it (doctors, healthcare team, researchers, pharma companies, other private companies, etc.) as well as full ownership and control over the profits gained from your own data.

5) Problem: Private companies run relatively cheap SNP tests which only sequence around 0.10% of your genome.
EDNA Solution: EDNA performs whole genome sequencing which will sequence around 98% of your entire genome.

6) Problem: Private companies’ decisions are made by a small group of executives and we usually just have to trust in them to be objective and not to screw us over.
EDNA Solution: The Decentralized Autonomous Community (DAC). I will borrow from their website here since it explains it pretty succinctly:

In practice, what that means there is no organization or control beyond what the DAC members determine. Using the power of the Internet to democratically elect custodians, the blockchain to record and make transparent the actions taken by those elected, and smart contracts to insure accountability of all funds within the system. The DAC truly can become the organization of the next century where customers are members, members are owners and owners are accountable to each other and for each other’s well-being.

7) Problem: Third party companies should not be trusted to maintain our privacy.
EDNA Solution: By using the blockchain EDNA creates the same system of privacy and security as was outlined with Bitcoin. However, it goes even further than that. A few years after Bitcoin was created, several other forms of currency were created that are considered “privacy coins”. Once again, let’s take a look at Bitcoin/blockchains public yet private feature. Essentially, privacy coins take the “public” aspect of it and scramble it so much that it becomes virtually impossible to accurately trace transactions between accounts and wallets. Take a look at this explanation of how Monero-XMR (a privacy coin) works:

When you send funds to someone’s public address, what happens is that you actually send the funds to a randomly created brand new one-time destination address. This means that the public record does not contain any mention that funds were received to the recipient’s public address.

For the same reason, the funds that you are sending were not associated with your own public address either in the public record. Therefore, when you send these funds, the public record will not show that the funds originated from your public address and will not show that the funds were sent to the recipient’s public address.

In Monero, your public address will never appear in the public record of transactions. Instead, a ‘stealth address’ is recorded in a way that only you, the recipient, can recognize the incoming funds.

When the recipient checks for funds, they need to scan the Monero blockchain (the public record of all transactions) to see if any transactions are destined for them. The recipient has a secret view key which is used to check each transaction to see if it was addressed to them. Because the recipient is the only one that knows the secret view key, only the recipient can see that funds have been sent to them.

EDNA uses a similar concept to secure the data on the blockchain. Here’s a quote straight from EDNA founder, Greg Simpson:

“We pull out the three million variants from the standard. We assign a unique ID to each variant and put that in your wallet. We then pull out five thousand other people. We tumble these files — being the three million variants of each of the 5000 people — using similar techniques that are employed by [privacy coins] Zcash and Monero. Now they are ready to go on the blockchain. Nobody can look at this information on the blockchain and say — look, there’s Sally’s DNA. It’s completely secure.”

“What is does is “mixes” the user’s tokens in with a large pile of other people’s tokens then sends the proper amounts back out the users at random. This serves to bury the identity and ownership trail of the users holding the coins.”

Lastly, EDNA functions not on the Bitcoin network but on the EOS network. EOS was developed after Bitcoin and uses the same core principles but with some modifications to make it faster, more secure, cheaper, and more scalable than Bitcoin. As an example, while a Bitcoin transaction can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours, costs several dollars per transaction, and the network can complete 7 transactions per second, EOS transactions take less than a second to complete, they have no fee, and the network can handle upwards of 4,000 transactions per second. Simply put, EOS is an upgraded version on the Bitcoin protocol and thus, better suits the needs of EDNA.

EDNA as an Investment

There are several ways in which someone may potentially profit from EDNA:

1) By having your genome sequenced by them and selling your data at your discretion.

2) By leasing some of your EDNA token to other users

3) By staking some of your EDNA tokens as a DAC member.

4) By holding EDNA tokens. The project is currently just getting ready to start sequencing so it’s reasonable to expect growth if the project is to continue to succeed in achieving its goals. As such, EDNA tokens may increase in value as the project continues to grow and achieve milestones.

EDNA Tokenomics: There are a total of 1,300,000,000 EDNA tokens. 1,000,000,000 were airdropped to EOS holders last year at a 1:1 ratio and the other 300,000,000 were set aside for projects funds in order to increase lab size and efficiency as the project grows. However, just recently, it was announced by EDNA that around half of the airdropped tokens were unclaimed and simply sitting in dead wallets. Given the amount of time that has lapsed between the airdrop and now, EDNA decided to reclaim those dead tokens (users still have one month to finally claim them if they wish to do so). These ~500,000,000 tokens will be placed in a leasing fund so they can be leased to help provide sequencing funds for users and so they can re-enter circulation.

Upcoming milestones:

1) The first group of people will be getting their DNA sequenced very soon and the first every genome will be stored on the blockchain.

2) DAC going live.

3) Marketing will start soon. Very little marketing has been done as of now.

4) More exchanges. EDNA is currently only available to purchase on decentralized EOS exchanges. As the project grows and gains more support, bigger exchanges would be expected in order to keep up with volume.

An End to Poaching

Now to another problem EDNA is attempting to address. Poaching is a major environmental issue that threatens the existence of many species and the stabilization of ecosystems. The good news is that there is something EDNA can do to stop this. I am not as knowledgeable in these other areas as I am in genetics so I will borrow an excerpt from another article:

40,000 Elephants are killed each year on a remaining population of just under 400,000. Not acting now — and I mean RIGHT NOW may erase that species from the face of the Earth. We have had some preliminary contact with a group working to end the ability of poachers who are by far the largest threat. What catches elephant poachers the best, is genetically matching ivory to prohibited hunting areas at the point of sale (since all living populations are already genetically mapped). Sadly, law enforcement and conservation groups cannot afford to test every tusk for sale, only a small sample — so the slaughter continues.

EDNA can change all of this. We’ve gone to great lengths to get the very best, lowest cost genetic sequencing tools into our lab. Adding in an “elephant testing division” is easily achieved, and can be delivered well below current prices paid to run the current “poacher check”.

Together, we can end this. If every tusk put up for sale were genetically tested and traced back to a legal kill or not, poaching is over.

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Poverty/Hunger

Yet another major issue that can be tackled by EDNA is world poverty and hunger. Think about it this way: you join EDNA and get your DNA sequenced. You then sell your genetic data to researchers and let’s say you end up making $500 profit within a few months or so. That’s pretty cool! You now have a little extra money for a new phone or maybe you just put it towards your savings or even use it to pay off debt. However, now picture a family living in complete poverty in a third-world country. They have the same opportunity to monetize their DNA. DNA gets sequenced the same regardless of ethnicity, race, social status, or wealth. Imagine how far that $500 can go in a small village in Africa. Furthermore, as explained earlier, the leasing program offers the opportunity for those without funds to lease them from the token holders for an agreed upon and smart-contract managed return. In this way, impoverished villagers would be able to be sequenced at no cost to them, and at no risk. EDNA is working closely with Wildlife Protector Africa, a registered non-profit company, to help achieve this goal and to maintain a presence in Africa (EDNA AFRICA).

Human Trafficking

EDNA is still not done though. Yet another major issue that EDNA aims to have an impact on is human trafficking. Unfortunately, there are some situations where children are kidnapped and end up being trafficked. Project Milkbox (for missing kids/people from South and Central America) is trying to provide ways for kids who disappeared from kidnapping or during a migrant journey to eventually make connections with family, especially those who were too young to remember their origins. A database of DNA offered by family members could be searched for matches against the DNA of a formerly missing child who wants to search for their relatives. With each individual controlling which ‘matching services’ can see their data (via their private keys), this is another service that EDNA can enable. By making individuals in control of who can see their data, this avoids the usual concerns of the legal authorities as the only ones with access to the DNA database. Thinking in terms of EDNA as a prevention against trafficking, it is possible that just knowing that some kids in the village are sequenced (and hence, identifiable) could be a deterrent to trafficking cartels — as they wouldn’t know who is traceable and who isn’t. With the help of Wildlife Protector Africa, EDNA is planning to be in direct contact with Governments and NGOs to advertise direct traceability. According to Wildlife Protector, many states already impose unabridged certificates on border posts as a basic requirement. These certificates will be connected to an EDNA AFRICA clearance document in the near future. No child will be allowed to travel without their EDNA documents. Nonetheless, the presence of EDNA AFRICA personnel in the villages will mean more than anything else.

Disclaimer

As previously stated, I was not paid by EDNA for this review and I was not asked to write it. However, I do hold EDNA tokens as (for the above reasons) it is one of my favorite projects and I genuinely believe in what they are doing. This is not financial advice and I encourage everyone to do their own research before investing in anything.

More Information

If you’d like to learn more about the project, I encourage everyone to join their Telegram group. The founder (Greg Simpson) is on there and is very active in responding to questions and concerns. I would also encourage you to register on their website and check it out (it’s live but still in beta). If you’re interested in buying tokens, I’ve bought most of mine on Newdex (you need an EOS desktop wallet and some EOS to trade with). If you’re new to crypto and need help onboarding and figuring out exchanges and how to buy EOS, I would suggest contacting the Telegram group for assistance.

Telegram: https://t.me/edna_life

Website: https://edna.life/

Exchange: https://newdex.io/trade/ednazztokens-edna-eos

Articles:

https://blockleaders.io/2018/11/28/greg-simpson-the-dna-mapping-scandal-unlocked/

https://en.cryptonomist.ch/2019/02/04/edna-geneos-dna-privacy-fbi/

https://medium.com/@eosdublin/edna-the-first-and-best-eos-application-22da264c90b0

https://steemit.com/eos/@dna-with-greg/edna-announces-edna-s-that-make-more-edna-s

https://steemit.com/eos/@dna-with-greg/edna-interviews-new-ceo

https://medium.com/@whofford_18882/edna-where-you-own-your-own-dna-20a3fae7441c

Interviews and Videos:

What does everyone need to know about their DNA?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6OqjPU-ADQ

Interview with Greg From EDNA on EOS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbcOEQxYEKE

EDNA DAC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoU0IS2au64

EDNA — Greg Simpson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAO7isUTqmo

An Update on EDNA EOS — Staking, Can EDNA Save the World?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZs266z72Po

WildLife Protector: EDNA, Human Trafficking, Rhino Poaching, atrocities in South Africa and blockchain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIc6evK-_AM

Wildlife Protector:

www.wildlifeprotector.africa

info@wildlifeprotector.africa

References:

23andMe Consent: https://www.23andme.com/about/consent/

23andMe Privacy: https://www.23andme.com/about/privacy/

Ancestry Privacy: https://www.ancestry.com/cs/legal/privacystatement

Ancestry Data-Purchasing Companies: https://www.ancestry.com/cs/collaborations

Ancestry Research Consent: https://www.ancestry.com/dna/lp/informedconsent-v4-en

Blockchain: https://medium.com/coinmonks/what-the-hell-is-blockchain-and-how-does-it-works-simplified-b9372ecc26ef

Bitcoin: https://bitcoin.org/en/how-it-works

EOS: https://www.bitdegree.org/tutorials/what-is-eos/

Privacy Coins: https://www.monero.how/how-does-monero-work-details-in-plain-english

Genetics/Genetic Testing: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer

Known Genetic Illnesses: https://www.genome.gov/For-Patients-and-Families/Genetic-Disorders

An Overview of Human Genetic Privacy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5697154/

National Human Genome Research Institute FAQ: https://www.genome.gov/human-genome-project/Completion-FAQ

Written by

I’m a research professional interested in genetics, data, privacy, blockchain, as well as solutions to environmental and humanitarian issues.

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