Two genetics papers published in prominent academic journals were retracted after being criticized for not fully agreeing to the persecution of Muslim Uyghurs in China by their subjects.
The study reveals a disturbing trend: Members of Chinese law enforcement and public security officials are listed among the coauthors of genetics research papers. This suggests that data was obtained from people who were forced or misled to give up their blood samples and therefore their genetic data.
The International Journal of Legal Medicine pulled a paper Tuesday and Human Genetics pulled another one August 30. Experts told the NYT, however, that these papers are only a small part of the problem.
Even after the two major retractions, hundreds remain. This is a sign of what the NYT calls major failings in informed consent and how oppressed minorities were treated by academics.
The studies were attempts by scientists to predict the physical characteristics of a person's body based on their genetic code. This is a controversial idea. However, scientists took blood samples from Uyghurs who had been subject to intense surveillance and mass incarceration. They also tried to conduct research by offering medical checks.
Springer Nature, publisher of both journals, has retracted papers. This is not surprising. It seems that the Uyghurs were probably not informed of the full extent of what was happening to their blood and that they weren't given an opportunity to decline.
Multiple Uyghurs told the NYT that the police involved in the research meant they were forced to give blood samples. They were never informed why.
We are unable to verify that the protocol was in compliance with our editorial policies.
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