Principle of informed consent: China’s genetic research on its ethnic minorities

Scientists have raised concern regarding the increasing focus of Chinese research articles on the genetics and personal information on its ethnic minorities like Uighurs and Tibetans. The report indicates that these studies make use of Tibetan subjects more frequently (40 times more likely) than Han subjects. Uighur subjects were 30 times more frequently used than Han subjects. They have flagged the issue that most of these researches have been published without consent of the study subjects. The limited information about the consent provided also cannot be verified. Eg: several studies have made use of blood samples from Uighurs who are from Xinjiang known for its internment camps. Also, most of these articles are backed by the Chinese state, security agency, etc. Several prestigious research journals like Springer Nature and Wiley are to review their guidelines and publications in this light. The move comes with the backdrop of increasing number of Chinese companies developing technologies that can reportedly track and identify Uighurs, Tibetans, etc.

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