By CRG Staff

from GeneWatch 27-2 | May-July 2014

Ecuador has accused U.S. scientists of collecting blood samples from individuals in an indigenous community and, despite telling the individuals that the samples were for medical tests, sold the samples to researchers in eight different countries.

In the initial 2012 report, Ecuador charged the Coriell Institute for Medical Research of selling genetic material from the Huaorani people, a small community in Ecuador's remote Amazon basin region. The Huaorani have a language unlike the Quechua-speaking people around them, and are known for having a unique genetic profile, apparently including valuable disease immunities. The original report found that 36 blood samples and seven cultures had been sent to eight countries. In explaining the updated findings, Rene Ramirez, head of Ecuador's Higher Education and Science Ministry, said that blood was drawn on false pretenses from 600 Huaorani over the course of as many as 3,500 procedures.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that between 1989 and 2012, at least 31 research papers were written based on these blood samples, with no consent from the "donors" and no royalty payments given.

The U.S. Embassy is apparently yet to issue a response to either the 2012 or the more recent allegations.

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