CRI Genetics Review | 5 Things to Know Before Buying
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If you’re a fan of underdog stories, you may be interested in the relatively new DNA testing company CRI Genetics. But, this underdog story has a twist. The editors here at Genomelink have reviewed dozens of DNA analysis websites and DNA testing companies to help our readers make informed decisions on which product to choose. In this case, there were some big red flags that other review sites seemed to miss.
In this article, we’ll review everything you need to know about CRI Genetics, including background on the company and the price of different products. Plus, we’ll show you why their marketing strategy, over-optimistic customer service team, and hyperbole claims draw some questions about their credibility.
1. About the Company
2. Test Results and Sample Reports
5. Does CRI Genetics allow you to Download your Raw DNA Data?
1. About The Company
Company Name: CRI Genetics, LLC
Foundation Year: 2017
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Number of employees: Unknown
Monthly Visits: ~600,000 (SimilarWeb)
Number of Users: Unknown
The absolute first thing you’ll notice when you open the CRI Genetics website is a grinning, crazy-eyed salesman luring you in with his budget-version Billy Mays pitch. The whole thing feels so much like a late-night television ad that you’re almost certain that the product will be $19.95, plus shipping and handling. At one point, the salesman says:
“History’s a long time, which means the possibilities of your genetic past are endless!”
Endless possibilities! The Most Accurate DNA Test! Efficiency Guaranteed! The sales pitch sounds perfect. But, can this DNA testing newcomer back up their big talk, or is this all too good to be true? While there are some positive aspects of CRI Genetics, there are a lot of hyperbolic marketing plays that may be getting in the way of a decent product.
First off, let’s take a look at their organizational structure and ownership - if you can find it. The company’s About Us page doesn’t say much about the company or its ownership. It does tout their Chief Science Officer - Dr. Alexei Fedorov - but that is about it. It should be noted that the first link when you search Alexei Fedorov is a link from the University of Toledo showing Dr. Fedorov’s Curriculum Vitae. Not listed among his many accomplishments and Ph.D.- CRI Genetics. Furthermore, one part of the website claims he “proved a Nobel-prize winning theory” - which might technically be true - but it’s not nearly the same as being awarded a Nobel Prize.
These aren’t necessarily deal-breakers - yet. Lots of young start-up companies need time to clearly define their brand and introduce their leadership. Beyond the fact that CRI Genetics is a privately-owned company, there isn’t much to go on. Unlike most other privately-owned DNA testing companies, there was no indication on the web of who owned CRI Genetics.
The Chief Operations Officer is apparently a guy named Serge Satyr, who according to LinkedIn had less than 8 years of professional experience before starting his role with CRI Genetics. Apparently, CRI is still looking for a Chief Technology Officer, thanks to an advertisement on ZipRecruiter (posted around 6/2021). A question of the FAQ page has an answer that suggests Alexei and Larisa Fedorov are founders of the company in addition to Alexei being the CSO. So, as of this point, the team is not exactly all on the bench, some haven’t shown up, and we’re not even exactly sure who’s playing.
Not to mention the name. According to the website, CRI Genetics apparently stands for “Cellular Research Institute, Genetics Department.” However, when you search for this business only one website has the same name (besides the CRI Genetics Homepage). This “Cellular Research Institute” is not clearly associated with a genetic testing business, and makes no mention of DNA test kits.
But, before we throw the “DNA testing baby” out with the bathwater, let’s see what CRI Genetics actually offers!
2. Test Results And Sample Reports
This company uses a cheek swab to collect DNA, which seems to be a lot easier than the spit tube provided by many companies. Simply ship your sample back to the lab with the envelope provided After a period of about 6 weeks, your ancestry analysis and other results should be ready. You will be notified via email.
The CRI Genetics site is not exactly clear on how many traits are in each category. When you find your way to any “Health” DNA testing kit screen, you can find a link to a list of all the “Health” reports. However, these reports are broken into 5 categories:
Health and Wellness
With a total of only 44 traits and the Ancestry results, CRI Genetics provides far less information than an equivalent Health + Ancestry test from 23andMe or MyHeritage. Below, we provide a quick review of each of the company’s report categories.
The ancestry report from CRI Genetics is not the worst ethnicity estimate we’ve ever seen. The results are clear, and users get free mtDNA and Y-DNA tests along with their autosomal DNA results. Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA can trace your maternal haplogroup and paternal haplogroup, respectively. Compare this to FamilyTreeDNA prices for a haplogroup test, and CRI Genetics looks like a pretty good deal for family history tracing and deep genetic genealogy.
However, their marketing does get in the way of their actual DNA testing service products. They make crazy claims that their ancestry tests are “the most accurate on the market.” But, since the accuracy of DNA ancestry testing depends mostly on a company’s reference populations, it seems unlikely that a tiny company like CRI Genetics could produce the most reliable ethnicity results. AncestryDNA - with a user database of over 18 million users - likely produces the most statistically generalizable results.
You should also keep in mind that CRI Genetics has no platform for matching your DNA sample to other users on the platform. The Biogeographical Ancestry Report simply states which ethnic populations you share the most DNA with. The ancestry timeline is mostly based on your haplogroup results. The test will also match you to “famous people” - although this feature is pretty hokey, especially when the figures are thousands of years old and are technically the ancestors of most of the world. The ancestry analysis is less than a professional genealogist could come up with and pales in comparison to Ancestry.com.
The general Traits category is full of random things like “Body Odor” and “Mosquito Bite Size.” You likely won’t be too surprised or wowed by the results in this category. Many of these “traits” are only backed by a single genome-wide association study (GWAS) and have little other evidence to back them up. The results don’t seem to have much depth in the explanation of each trait. These genetic markers can be interesting, but you can get most of these traits for free on other sites (see below). DNA test results in this category might be interesting - but they probably won’t help you very much in your everyday life.
Health and Wellness
CRI Genetics may call these “Health Test” results, but most DNA companies would only call them “Wellness” traits or simply “Traits”. These traits are only tangentially related to health. For instance, how much caffeine you drink may affect your health. But, none of these “health traits” appear to be carrier status reports for genetic diseases or genetic risk assessments for common diseases. So, if you want to learn how your genetics can help you sleep better, you can buy these “health reports” for $200 or you can just recite the amino acid codon chart as you try to fall asleep. Dealer’s choice.
The Metabolism traits are related to CRI Genetics “Weight Loss Program.” The words are in quotes because the program can hardly be considered a comprehensive weight-loss strategy. Several of the “reports” in this category may help you manage various aspects of your weight loss strategy, but should not be considered the foundation. Some of the traits are backed by very little evidence.
The nutrition traits are also included in the weight loss package, and a few of them would be interesting reading. But, there are many places on the internet where you can get this information for much cheaper. There are only 9 nutrition traits included. Some reports give information on how your genes may impact your need for important vitamins, like Vitamin D. Others - like Umami Flavor - try to estimate how “full” certain flavors make you feel. While any GWAS can yield interesting results, paying $199 for these results seems like a scam.
While you would think that a genetic test would be extremely helpful, genes are only one small aspect of allergies. Allergies are caused by epigenetic interactions between the proteins created by your DNA and the environment.
As your immune system is exposed to different substances, it can “learn” and change according to what it encounters. In some cases, an allergic reaction is caused when the immune system is confronted with an allergen. If you have a reaction and the severity of your reaction are determined by your genetics, the amount of allergen in the environment, and your immune system’s past experiences.
For instance, several SNPs have been found to increase the risk of peanut allergies in people. But, the SNPs only increase the risk from about 1% to about 3%. While this is a 3x increase, it is still a very small risk that the person will actually develop a peanut allergy. The other 97% probability suggests they would be fine.
This is another case where the information is available for a very low cost once you have your raw DNA data, but CRI Genetics is trying to charge you an arm and a leg for it. For example, check out what you can do with Promethease for only $12!
Here are some sample reports you can access before you make your decision!
At best, CRI Genetics gets mixed reviews. The most concerning thing here is that CRI Genetics has an enormous number of complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau. Compared to 23andMe (15 years in business, 92 recent complaints), CRI Genetics looks like a complaint factory with almost 600 complaints and only 4 years in business.
-1.7/5 Stars on Amazon
- 5/5 Stars on Facebook
-3.9/5 Stars on Trustpilot
- “B” Rating with 593 Complaints with the Better Business Bureau
The Facebook reviews don’t seem to make sense. The company scored 5/5 with over 800 reviews, though many of the reviews “do not recommend” CRI Genetics and have specific complaints about the accuracy of the test and the responsiveness of customer service. CRI’s customer service team also seems to be playing the spin game by turning even negative reviews into glowing recommendations - as witnessed by the peculiar comment on this mostly critical review:
So, even though CRI Genetics scores well on a few sites, negative reviews on multiple sites suggest cause for concern. Even if this company does have a decent product, their entire service is not quite on track yet. The 8-Week Efficiency Guarantee supposedly ensures that you get the fastest results possible, but most DNA testing companies can provide results within this time frame.
CRI Genetics has quite a few products, and we’ve collected the prices for each DNA testing kit package. Keep in mind that these are not sales prices - CRI Genetics appears to have regular holiday sales where you can get up to 50% off. Even with a 50% discount, prices are not exactly cheap:
Ancestry - $99
Ancestry + Health - $199
Allergy + Health - $199
Weight Loss - $99
Weight Loss + Health - $199
You’ll also notice that these are not the same categories that are seen in the Reports section. That is because CRI Genetics makes weird bundles of their different 45 trait reports to make the user feel like they are getting a better value. In reality, there are 3 options: Ancestry only, Weight Loss only, or all genetic traits. Considering that the “health” traits are just a random collection of health-adjacent traits and that the allergy testing is questionable, the cost for these reports seems unfair.
Other companies can provide dozens of actual health traits (like 23andMe) and more interactive ancestry features for the same price. CRI Genetics can claim that it is the “most accurate” and best - but it is competing with DNA giants. At one point, the CRI Genetics sales video notes that over 26 million people have had their DNA tested. Ancestry and 23andMe account for the large majority of these tests, and CRI Genetics has probably tested less than a million people. It seems that their prices should reflect this vast difference in experience and offerings. Unless they have some sort of miracle algorithm, it seems like this DNA kit is overreaching.
5. Does CRI Genetics allow you to Download your Raw DNA Data?
It looks like CRI Genetics does not currently have the capability to allow its users to download their raw DNA data. While the company may offer this feature in the future, you should know that CRI Genetics is working with a slightly smaller DNA measurement than most companies, which lessens the value of your raw data.
CRI Genetics boasts that it uses fewer SNPs (only about 600,000) for “accuracy.” It’s unclear how this makes the ancestry results more accurate, and users miss out on the traits tied to the SNPs that weren’t measured. The editors here at Genomelink suggest that you test with a larger DNA testing company like 23andMe or Ancestry that will measure 700,000+ SNPs or get your whole genome sequenced for maximum results. Then, you can access your raw data and upload raw DNA data to many of the sites below for free access to loads of information that CRI Genetics tries to charge you for!
Know More About Your DNA Data!
1. Genomelink — FREE
2. Promethease (genetic health risk)
3. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) — FREE
4. MyHeritage DNA — FREE
5. LivingDNA — FREE
6. GEDmatch — FREE
Nutrition and Fitness
To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"