Biocolonialism and Other “Western”-Centered Bioethical Failures Onto Indigenous Peoples
There are complex, historical reasons why global Indigenous peoples have largely not engaged in genetics and genomics research. For example, if we look to the 1990s and early 2000s, global Indigenous peoples expressed concerns related to: 1) the co-optation and commercial extraction of their genomic data; 2) the biological reification of Indigeneity amid misconstructions of genetic ancestry, blood quantum, and race, tied to resource dispossession; 3) the cultural incongruencies between Indigenous ethics and worldviews and “Western” bioethical frameworks; and 4) that innovations stemming from their peoples’ genomic data would benefit them last. These concerns are sustained today.
Indigenous peoples and scholars have voiced their concerns about sample extraction from the onset of the modern sequencing era. The risks associated with their inclusion in large-scale genomic diversity projects has only increased concomitantly with more deeply interrogative whole-genome approaches. Will present-day genome diversity projects (e.g., the All of Us Research Program, the Human Pangenome Reference Consortium) learn from their predecessors or will they merely…
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