Saturday, December 09, 2006

Molecular Colonialism

The New York Times has a story on the "Genographic Project," a multi-million dollar project of the National Geographic Society to collect and study the DNA of global indigenous populations. While the story discusses the apprehension of many indigenous peoples to hand over their DNA for research due to beliefs about geographic origins and land rights, it completely overlooks the documented cases of such research becoming a means of property acquisition for pharmaceutical companies. 

Well known cases include the DNA of a Hagahai man from remote Papua New Guinea, patented by the US NIH in 1995 and Guayami woman. Even those in the "first world" aren't protected from biopiracy, as John Moore's case against UCLA testifies.

So why would indigenous people be wary of such research? They have their own reasons.

posted by ryan griffis  # 5:03 PM

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