FW: [NativeNews] Re: Press Release: Indigenous Peoples Critical of The Human Genome Project

Craven, Jim jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Wed Jun 28 12:44:23 MDT 2000

-----Original Message-----
From: Jon Schaefer [mailto:jkschae_98 at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 28, 2000 12:16 AM
To: ykboo
Cc: Eugene Johnson; Tony Johnson; Rob Elizabeth Allen; Cher Bear;
Fernando and Marlene" Divina
Subject: Fwd: [NativeNews] Re: Press Release: Indigenous Peoples
Critical of The Human Genome Project

Passed along by Ishgooda. Thanks.

> Reply-to: NatNews-owner at egroups.com
> Subject: [NativeNews] Re: Press Release:  Indigenous
> Peoples Critical of The Human  Genome Project
> sent by Carol..thanks!
> At 06:38 PM 06/27/2000 -0400, you wrote:
> From: ban at dojo.tao.ca
> Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 11:07:49 -0400
> Subject: BAN: Press Release:  Indigenous Peoples Critical
> of The Human  Genome
> Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism
> Press Release
> June 26, 2000
> Contact:  Debra Harry (775) 574-0248
> ---------------------------------------------------------
> Indigenous Peoples Critical of The Human Genome Project
> Nixon, NV, 4:00 pm PST.   Scientists representing the
> publicly funded Human
> Genome Project, and the private venture, Celera
> Corporation, announced
> today they have completed a rough map of the human
> genome.  The human
> genome consists of two sets of 23 chromosomes, with each
> set containing a
> total of 3 billion chemical units.
> "This announcement, and genetic research generally,
> raises serious issues
> of concern to indigenous peoples", said Debra Harry,
> Northern Paiute, and
> Executive Director of the Indigenous Peoples Council on
> Biocolonialism.
> She says, "Now that the sequencing project is complete
> more scientists will
> turn their attention to human genetic diversity, which
> includes the
> collection and study of the DNA of indigenous peoples.
> This is likely to
> result in patents on the genetic inheritance of
> indigenous peoples, and
> possible manipulations of their DNA, which violate the
> natural genetic
> integrity of their ancestry".
> Brett Shelton, Lakota, an attorney, and IPCB's Director
> of Policy and
> Research states, "Therefore, indigenous peoples need to
> first obtain
> information about genetic research likely to be done in
> their communities.
> And, indigenous peoples need to assert their sovereign
> right to control
> genetic research activities that affect them.  They must
> set limitations
> and enforce them when research activities affect their
> peoples."  The IPCB
> has developed a model ordinance for tribal governments
> that can be used to
> govern scientific research in tribal jurisdictions.
> Harry says, "I'm concerned that this furthers the hype
> for more genetic
> research.  The public is lead to believe this will lead
> to cures of human
> diseases, however, cures are not going to be realized
> anytime in the near
> future if at all, since most human illnesses are a result
> of complex
> interactions between genes and the environment."
> "Genetic research of this scale hurts, rather than
> benefits, indigenous
> peoples because it diverts public funds away from direct
> health care and
> prevention programs." She says "the millions of dollars
> spent on human
> genome sequencing has diverted attention away from far
> more current and
> pressing public health needs.  The same amount of
> attention to insure we
> have access to basic health care, clean water, safe
> foods, and a healthy
> environment is an effort from which we would see real
> benefits."
> Several critics of the current widespread emphasis on
> genomic research have
> noted that economic oppression, not genetics, is a major
> cause of illness
> in minority/ethnic communities.   Harry notes, "An
> emphasis on genetic
> research will pose no benefits to vast numbers of the
> American public,
> whose health problems are a product of contaminated
> environments, and
> economic poverty, not inherited diseases."
> Dr. Jonathan King, Professor of Biology at MIT and a
> member of the board of
> directors of the Council for Responsible Genetics states
> "We are concerned
> that the emphasis on gene sequences will be used to imply
> that genes are at
> the basis of a variety of human disease and conditions,
> when in fact the
> great body of evidence, establishes that the majority of
> human ill health
> is not inherited but is due to external insult including
> pollution,
> infection, inadequate or in appropriate diet, physical
> accident, or excess
> stress or social disruption such as wars".  King further
> adds, "We note
> that preventing damage to human genes from carcinogens is
> a far more
> effective public health strategy than allowing the
> disease to develop and
> then attempting gene therapy. "
> Other scientists criticize the reductionist perspectives
> in the search for
> genetic causes and cures of disease.  Dr. Stuart Newman,
> Professor of Cell
> Biology and Anatomy New York Medical College and a board
> member of the
> Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism notes,
> "Although there are
> potentially beneficial uses for the information gathered
> in the Human
> Genome Project, there is also the great threat that this
> information will
> be used to persuade people that they are not good enough,
> biologically.
> This will be justified by promised improvements to human
> health, but unless
> carefully monitored and regulated, this emphasis on
> genetics will have a
> divisive effect, whereby those categories and groups of
> people that have
> traditionally been marginalized will now learn that their
> genes are
> inferior and need to be improved."
> There are many potential negative aspects of human
> genetic research which
> are not being widely discussed in the general public, yet
> have serious
> social consequences such as genetic discrimination, or
> the hazards posed by
> genetic engineering. These are serious questions that
> have not been
> addressed, and require public debate and democratic
> control.
> This work brings us closer to a future where the human
> genome can be
> privatized, not to benefit people's health but to fatten
> corporate profits.
> Already, patents have been filed, and then later
> abandoned, on the DNA of
> indigenous peoples from the Solomon Islands and Panama.
> The U.S. Patent and
> Trademarks Office (PTO) actually approved a patent on the
> cells lines of a
> Hagahai man from Papua New Guinea.   The patent was
> granted to the U.S.
> Department of Health and Human Services and the National
> Institutes of
> Health in March 1994.  In late 1996 the NIH abandoned the
> patent. However,
> the Hagahai cell line is now available to the public at
> the American Type
> Culture Collection as ATCC Number: CRL-10528 Organism:
> Homo Sapiens (human)
> for $216 per sample.  This trend is likely to continue as
> new potentially
> profitable genes are identified in indigenous
> populations.
> Numerous patents have been granted to both public and
> private interests for
> partial or full human genes.  For instance, Celera  has
> applied for 6,500
> gene patents (1), while Incyte  has filed patent
> applications covering
> 50,000 individual human genes (2).   In order to stop the
> privatization and
> commodification of the human genome, several citizens
> groups are calling
> for national legislation to mandate the US Patent and
> Trademark Office to
> cease granting patents on human genes, and to exclude
> living creatures,
> their genes or components from the patent system.
> Genetic engineering also poses risks for humanity because
> human biology can
> be manipulated in a manner that redefines what it is to
> be human.  For
> example, Maori tribal members in New Zealand were
> horrified to learn they
> were subjects of transgenic experiments where their human
> DNA was inserted
> into sheep.  Apparently one elderly tribal member was
> persuaded to sign a
> consent form on behalf of the entire tribe.  "The thought
> of human (Maori)
> and animal genes being mixed was totally abhorrent and
> offensive both
> culturally and morally."(3)   This experimentation was
> carried out by PPL
> Therapeutics, the commercial arm of the Roslin Institute
> which holds the
> patent on cloning technology for all mammals.  This
> incident highlights the
> potential for human genetic manipulation when mechanisms
> for oversight,
> control, and accountability are lacking.
> Newman comments, "Some scientists and writers have indeed
> begun to advocate
> remaking human biology using the new genetics, and
> predict that those who
> are unable or unwilling to make use of these technologies
> will fall by the
> wayside.  A few organizations have taken up the fight to
> protect society
> from the negative uses of this project.  Some scientists,
> physicians, and
> entrepreneurs will try to play god, and think they have
> the right to
> redefine life.  The public has to understand this and set
> limits."
> The Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism is
> organized to assist
> indigenous peoples in the protection of their genetic
> resources, indigenous
> knowledge, and cultural and human rights from the
> negative effects of
> biotechnology.  The organization encourages indigenous
> peoples to pay
> critical attention to genetic research, and to establish
> laws that protect
> their resources from exploitation.  More information on
> the work of the
> IPCB can be found on their website at www.ipcb.org.
> 1.  Celera Press Release "Celera compiles DNA Sequence
> Covering 90% of the
> Human Genome", January 10, 2000
> 2.  Incyte Press Release, November 22, 1999 PRNewswire
> 3.  L.Pihama, C. Smith, Hands Off Our Genes: A Case Study
> on the Theft of
> Whakapapa (Maori lineages),  International Research
> Institute for Maori and
> Indigenous Education, University of Auckland 1997
> For further information, contact:
> Debra Harry
> Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Council on
> Biocolonialism
> Tel:  (775) 574-0248
> Fax:  (775) 574-0259
> Email:  dharry at ipcb.org
> website:  www.ipcb.org
>   ________________________________________
>   Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism
>   Tel:  (775) 574-0248                Fax:  (775) 574-0259
>   Email: ipcb at ipcb.org        Website:  www.ipcb.org
>   _________________________________________

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