We all want to know our story. We want to understand what makes us, us. Sometimes things get forgotten. They get hidden in history. Answers to questions we have an innate yearning to ask are shrouded and forgotten.
This is why DNA testing companies have seen such a rise in popularity over the last two decades. They claim to be able to answer our big existential questions: who am I? Where do I come from? Why do I look the way I do?
In such a suddenly emerging and fast-growing industry, it’s no surprise that multiple companies have tossed their hat in the consumer DNA testing ring. But then, which one should you trust to give you the answers to your burning questions.
Well, in this article we’re going to put International Biosciences under the microscope. We’ll discuss their history, popularity, accuracy, their services, and their ethics.
Hopefully, then you’ll have a good understanding of what they’re all about, and you can make an informed decision about who to trust with your DNA and your curiosity.
International Biosciences History
International Biosciences was founded in 2005 in Sussex, UK, which makes them a relative newcomer in the world of DNA testing. Other popular companies trace their roots as far back as the early 90s.
That’s not to say they don’t have the expertise that comes with experience. The company is young, but it might be that it was founded by or employs very talented biologists.
We couldn’t find the name of any head honcho, which seems a little strange, but probably just means IBDNA was conceived by multiple parties.
After establishing themselves in the UK, they began developing working relationships with laboratories all over the world, hence the ‘International’ in their name. Now they boast an impressive network that includes some of the most prestigious institutions in the field.
Services and Costs
Here’s the thing about IB...their services are by no means cheap.
They’re actually one of the most expensive options in the DNA testing world. An ancestral test will cost you a cool £149, and a grandparent test will cost you a whopping £249.
Although they do keep tabs on competitors’ prices, they claim it’s not a discountable process. They broker a deal with the top-rated DNA research laboratories in the world.
The deal is the best possible price for the quality of the research IB demands. Therefore, don’t expect any Groupon deals or coupons for IB testing.
This makes sense to us. They’re right; it shouldn’t be a discountable cost. They don’t need any clever marketing ploy or half-price offers. They just need to do what they do to the best of their abilities. So, yes, IB is expensive, but you do get what you pay for.
IB have also made a name for themselves by providing increasingly fast tests. In a lot of cases, customers received the results early. Considering Ib’s rigorous international testing process, this is an amazing feat.
They offer a really wide array of DNA tests, and because of their empirical means of testing, they can supply incredibly accurate results that are admissible in a court of law.
They can test for maternity and paternity, prenatal or normal.
It’s important to note their prenatal tests are non-invasive and cost £859, so they’re not exactly cheap but highly accurate.
They can also provide relationship tests including sibling, avuncular, grandparent, and twin zygosity, among others.
These vary in price between £100 and £200.
They also offer a few other prenatal tests such as baby gender tests and a screening for chromosomal abnormalities.
The GPS Origins test helps you discover exactly where your ancestors were from. It can even specify which cities or islands in particular they inhabited.
Their Ancestral Origins test explores your links with populations around the world. Both of these tests cost £149 each. You can also test for maternal or paternal lineage individually.
They’ve even expanded to accommodate animal DNA testing. You can now find out what breeds make up your dog’s genetic makeup.
Unfortunately, they only test for diseases in cats and birds. Disappointing, I know. You’ll have to wait for that in-depth rundown of your kitties family tree.
Due to their international business model, they’re a great option for testing people who live in different areas of the world.
They can coordinate all parties involved and have results back just as fast as if they lived in the same house.
IB consider themselves a highly ethical operation both professionally and morally, and they adhere to the Department of Health’s codes on paternity testing.
In fact, their practices are so highly regarded that the government’s Human Genetics advisory body asked for their help in setting up lab and company testing procedures.
Their website uses their association with highly reputable institutions around the world as evidence of their ethical standing. This does go some way in backing up their claim. Their privacy policies are also top-notch, but there has been one particularly famous case of a possible ethics violation on their part.
The company received criticism for their decision to release over-the-counter paternity tests to be stocked in pharmacies all over the UK. No other DNA testing company has ever tried to enter the retail market. Some people regarded this as a breach of medical ethics.
It’s claimed the easy access tests profiteer from unhealthy and often unfounded familial suspicion. It was claimed they were exploiting paranoia instilled in people by the rise in popularity of certain television shows that make a spectacle of family disputes.
We understand that retailing DNA tests can be good or bad. It’s just offering the service they already provide in a slightly different manner.
What we think is an issue here is that although the paternity tests can be bought over the counter for £30, it will cost just over £100 to get the results back. We think this is a little deceptive and exploitative.
Besides that though, there have been no fragrant ethics violations reported. IB delivers where it counts. They provide highly professional and accurate DNA testing.
Customer Care and Communication
IBDNA has really good customer service. They seemingly reply to all negative reviews on sites like Trustpilot in a polite and concise manner.
They even take up cases in situations where customers feel they’ve received poor service and investigate them thoroughly.
They also pride themselves on having all-human customer service teams. You’ll never have to navigate the infuriating algorithms of automated responses with IB.
So, as far as post-transaction service goes, they’re brilliant. We cross-checked the dates of reviews and the dates of their replies, and they were all dealt with in a timely manner.
The latest reply was just a month after the initial review and was posted after an investigation had been carried out. We think a month from complaint - to full investigation - to reply, is pretty reasonable.
They advertise on their website that their senior management team is readily at hand to deal with complaints, so you won’t have to go through a thousand communications staff members before you feel heard by the right person.
Follow Up Relationship
Unfortunately, IBDNA provides you with posted or online PDF results, and then that’s it. Your information will be disposed of and you won’t hear any other additional or follow-up news pertaining to your test results.
This isn’t the best follow up service, but IBDNA doesn’t have a subscription business model. You pay for a service once and then they carry out that service.
This method can also be a good thing when it comes to privacy as your personal details aren’t lingering around for long periods of time or spread around outside companies.
They offer full refunds for some tests if the results are proved to be incorrect, which is great! The problem is that they don’t list the tests eligible for full refunds in their official refunds policy.
If you’re purchasing a kit from IBDNA, make sure you check near the bottom of the test page for this full refund option.
Otherwise, they offer a full refund if you cancel the order before they send out the kit. If you cancel the order once you’ve received the kit, they give you a full refund minus the postage and administration costs. You can’t get a refund if you’ve used and sent the kit back.
Overall, we think this a pretty good set of stipulations for refunds. They could be a little clearer about which tests are eligible for a full refund if proved to be incorrect, but it all seems fair.
Their website isn’t especially well designed, but it’s a clear enough layout to get you where you need to be.
We checked a few past reviews that said the website was almost impossible to navigate. We can only assume they took these comments seriously and have made improvements to their online presence since.
Our biggest problem with the website was that there wasn’t much in the way of an origin story in their ‘about’ section. It was all very general and vague, with the use of the company ‘we’ and ‘we’re’ dotted around a scant description of the organisation.
This doesn’t really affect how good their services are, but it would nice to know of any pedigree in their genesis to build up some trust.
The only other thing we thought was strange about their website was the stock picture of two doctors and a nurse. The two doctors are wearing stethoscopes around their neck which, yes, makes them look very doctorial, but not exactly in the correct way.
A biologist employed by a private DNA testing company wouldn’t need a stethoscope. Again, this doesn’t mean their services won’t be as good as another company. We just felt it was a strange oversight or perhaps intentionally a little misleading.
International Biosciences ensure that your results are witnessed by the least amount of people as possible.
Their testing kits are highly discreet with no advertisements or other giveaways. Neighbors or cohabitants will have no idea you’ve received a DNA testing kit or DNA test results.
As mentioned earlier, all your personal information is erased once the transaction is complete. You may still exist on their system as a statistic so they can review business progress, but that’s it.
IBDNA are incredibly honest about the variables that can skew test results. They don’t want to trick you into anything or give you a false sense of the service they provide. Transparency is essential when it comes to DNA testing businesses, so we think they do well on this count.
They will guide you through the DNA kit’s process via email, making sure you know the best way to ensure an accurate result. They also express results in a very accessible way.
They explain everything in full without sounding condescending, or overly clinical. This is a small touch, but incredibly important. You need to fully understand your results and the procedures involved in the testing.
IB also have a quality assurance protocol in place to ensure the accuracy of your test results. It involves doing all the testing twice at the very least and then double-checking everything.
Another way in which IB set themselves apart from a lot of the other companies at the minute is by testing 21 loci or genetic markers, as opposed to the normally accepted 16.
This just means they’re looking for more evidence than other companies. The results of most of their DNA testing will be 99.9% accurate. Pretty amazing, right?
IB only work with laboratories with international accreditation. This means that any lab your tests get sent to have been rigorously inspected and audited.
You can rest assured that your DNA is being analysed by world leaders in biology.
At first, we thought it was a bit suspicious that you could order a home testing kit or buy the same service as a legal test that will hold up in a court of law.
It seems at first glance that the more affordable home test won’t be as accurate as the legal test as the former isn’t legitimate in court.
This undermines IB’s expressed dedication to accuracy, repeated measures and empiricism. How can they claim that they have such accurate methods in one breath, then offer more expensive even more accurate methods in another?
Well, we did a little research and found out that there’s no difference to the actual tests done. The ‘legality’ of a test refers simply to the process of swabbing. It has to be taken by a neutral party and observed by a medical professional to ensure no foul play.
The only other difference is that the court chooses a particular lab for the DNA to be analysed.
This is the biggest testament to the accuracy of IB’s results. Their testing is so accurate it holds up as overwhelming scientific certainty in a court of law.
Although IB are a streamlined and professional DNA testing company, they are not infallible. Sometimes customers do claim that the results they received cannot be correct. Mistakes can be made.
We’re sure some of these claims were legitimate, but a lot of the ones we checked out didn’t have any substantial evidence to decry the results. It seemed to be more of a case of people getting angry when the results aren’t what they wanted or expected.
Most of the unhappy customers had purchased the dog breed test. Perhaps they’re right and IB needs to refine their process for this particular service. We don’t really have a good enough understanding of dog ancestry and breeding to comment.
As mentioned earlier, you may be eligible for a full refund if the results are blatantly incorrect.
You won’t find IB on many of the ‘best of’ lists online. They’re not an incredibly popular household name with an expensive advert and a catchy jingle. They in fact seem to distance themselves from that kind of marketing in favor of a more clinical and severe tone.
Even the name itself implies a dryness, professionalism; there is an intentional and marked absence of flare and the often twee personal approach of competing companies.
This rather sterile branding exudes the idea that their tests will be more official and stringent, and therefore, more accurate. To a certain extent, we think this is true.
This means their appeal is spread among those with more important and urgent inquiries. The millions of curious hobbyists eager to learn about their roots will more likely choose a cheaper option from a warmer brand.
So, don’t be worried that they’re not talked about the most. They’ve cornered a whole part of the market. Even if they seem sort of low key compared to other companies, they’re still exceedingly popular.
So, there it is. A full overview of International Biosciences. Let’s condense how they did to a simple pros and cons list.
- They put a lot of thought and effort into protecting your privacy at all stages of the transaction
- They test 21 genetic locations rather than the normal 16
- They do every single test twice and double check the results
- They have a network of the most impressive laboratories in the world
- Their customer care is first rate
- Their refund policy is fair
- They assist the government’s Genetics advisory board
- They’re UK based
- Renowned for providing highly professional and accurate service
- They offer a wide array of DNA testing services
- They’re expensive
- Their over the counter paternity test was controversial
- They don’t offer follow up information on results
- Their website could be better
International Biosciences are a fantastic choice if you're taking your search for answers seriously. They’re quite costly, but the light they shed on personal matters and mystery is priceless.
They’ve set themselves apart from the pack not just in brand, but practice. The fact that they’re consultants to the government’s Genetics advisory board is testament to just how proficient they have become in their field.
On rare occasions, people aren’t happy with their results, but the problem can be caused before IB even get the kit back for testing. They provide lots of advisory communication to help you complete the test without contamination. If instructions are misunderstood or ignored, it can still happen.
Overall, we think IB are a very trustworthy and professional organisation and a fantastic way to help you crack your genetic code.