China’s gene company accused of collecting genetic data of women from world-wide

Beijing, China: Chinese company gene is being accused of collecting genetic data of millions of women worldwide and giving it to the military for research over traits of the population

A Chinese daily tabloid newspaper Global Times reported that the Chinese gene company BGI Group on Thursday refuted the review reports done by Reuters and termed it “factually incorrect.”

The company said that it has never provided data from its non-invasive prenatal test (NIPT) to Chinese authorities and the prenatal tests were not developed in partnership with China’s military and it strictly adheres to national and international requirements on data privacy. The company was responding to Reuters’ report which it calls “factually incorrect.”

The statement came after Reuters reported on Wednesday that a prenatal test taken by millions of pregnant women globally was developed by BGI Group in collaboration with the Chinese military and is being used by the firm to collect genetic data, said Global Times.
The report said that the US sees BGI’s efforts to collect and analyze human gene data as a national security threat.

According to the statement, BGI has never been asked to provide, nor has it provided data from its Non-Invasive Fetal TrisomY test to Chinese authorities for national security or national defense security purposes.

“DNA data collected from prenatal tests on women outside China are not stored in a gene bank in the Chinese mainland,” BGI said.

All NIPT data collected overseas are stored in BGI’s laboratory in Hong Kong and are destroyed after five years, as stipulated by General Data Protection Regulation, which was drafted and passed by the European Union and is widely recognized as the toughest privacy and security law in the world.

BGI’s NIPT test was developed solely by BGI – not in partnership with China’s military, the statement noted.

The company noted that it collaborates with many academic and research organizations not just in China, but also in the US, the UK and Europe. These collaborations have led to significant advances in medical science that have improved population health outcomes around the world.

BGI’s NIPT tests have been used around the world to identify genetic conditions during pregnancy. These tests provide doctors with the scientific basis to assist millions of pregnant women, leading to better health outcomes and, in some cases, saved lives, according to BGI.