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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Polish Gene Project is about to abandon Chinese technology over data thinking

Warsaw Po, a European Union-funded project to build a genomic map of Poland, plans to exclude gene-sequencing technology from China’s BGI Group over data security concerns, one of the project’s leaders told Reuters.

The genomic map of Poland’s concerns stems from questions about how Polish genomic data related to national security can be used, said Marek Figlarovich, a professor at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Polish Academy of Sciences, who is leading the project.

Figlarwiz said earlier this year a report from the U.S. National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) expressed concern that the BGI was acting as a “global collection system for the Chinese government’s genetic database.”

The BGI’s response told Reuters that the US report was “misinformation, not carried out by the truth;” China’s foreign ministry called it a “baseless allegation and a hoax.”

A spokesman for the NSCAI said it stood by its report, and suggested doubling the strategies of the United States and its allies to better protect patients’ privacy. Since 2015, Beijing has barred foreign researchers from accessing Chinese people’s genetic data.

In August, a human genetics committee from the Polish Academy of Sciences said a “lack of compliance” with the principles of genetic testing ethics had created serious doubts about the “Far East Company”. It did not name any company or country but requested labs and scientific institutes to stop using biotechnology companies that order genetic material abroad.

It says about 100,000 complete Polish genomes may already be in the “Far East” laboratory, citing a rough estimate that Reuters could not verify. The committee said Poland had no control over that sensitive personal information.

Figlarovich said Genomic Maps, which could cost 100 million zlotys (২৫ 25.355 million) and has outsourced work to third parties since 2001, halfway through the 50,000 Polish genome sequencing program.

That company, Bialystok-based Central Europe Genomics Center SP. z oo (CEGC), which started using BGI’s technology last year, he said; Now Figlerwiz says Poland’s Genomic Map has decided not to send any genetic information outside the country and is likely to cancel its contract with the CEGC. He added that the final decision, which may still be approved by the funding organization, is expected in the next one or two weeks.

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As the technology for sequencing genetic data has improved and become cheaper, Figlaroise says the mapping project plans to bring the remaining sequencing into the house. The project seeks to ensure Poland’s genomic “independence” so that it can ensure data protection.

CEGC did not respond to a request for comment. Poznan-based biotech company Ino-Gene SA, which is a minority partner in CEGC, said it was unaware of a possible cancellation.

The European Union, which has provided about 65 percent of the total funding for genomic maps, did not respond to a request for comment. The Polish Ministry of Education and the National Information Processing Institute were also not involved in financing the project. Poland’s special services declined to comment.

National security

Reuters reported in July that BGI had developed and improved prenatal screening tests sold in at least 52 countries in collaboration with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hospital.

The test website’s privacy policy says the information collected can be shared in China if it is “directly relevant to national security or national defense security,” although the BGI says it was not asked to do so. BGI uses the genetic data of pregnant women to investigate population characteristics. It collaborates with PLA in other areas of research.

The BGI rejects any suggestion that the Nifty has created branded tests in collaboration with the military, saying that working with a military hospital is not equivalent.

($ 1 = 3.9448 zlotys)

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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