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Indigenous Genomics

Indigenous Genomics

By Emma Kowal, Simon Easteal & Mick Gooda

Mistrust is a significant but not insurmountable barrier to the acceptance of genomics by Indigenous people.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In 1994 Indigenous people around the world raised the alarm about scientists who wanted to steal their biological material, patent it and make drugs from it. The scientists were part of the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), a companion project to the Human Genome Project that completed sequencing of the entire human genome in 2001.

The HDGP aimed to map out the different variants of those genes that existed throughout the world. Scientists believed that analysing the small differences in gene sequences between different groups could show how humans migrated across the globe over the past 100,000 years.

But Indigenous people saw it differently. Aboriginal leader John Liddle spoke out against the project, and no samples were collected in Australia. Concerns about the “Vampire Project” were included in the 1996 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice report (http://tinyurl.com/h7ydur4) written by Mick Dodson, who was Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission:

The Vampire Project not only jeopardises the rights and safety of the peoples targeted, but could also lead to the cultural, political and social complexity of Indigenous identity and Aboriginal rights being reduced to an arbitrary genetic test. It is not unreasonable to speculate that such...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.