China watchMembers of Scientific Journal Editorial Board Resign over China Genetics Papers

Published 10 August 2021

Eight members of the editorial board of Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine have resigned after the journal published several controversial papers which “critics fear could be used for DNA profiling and persecution of ethnic minorities in China.”

Eight members of the editorial board of Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine have resigned after the journal published several controversial papers which “critics fear could be used for DNA profiling and persecution of ethnic minorities in China.”

Pandora Report notes that these papers were initially flagged by Yves Moreau, a Belgian bioinformatician with a history of pursuing the retraction of troubling or unethical scientific papers.

There are several concerns with the papers in question, many of whose authors have affiliations with Chinese police agencies, or who have received funding from these agencies. First, the papers all address forensic genetics, a controversial field that applies genetic knowledge to legal issues—a problematic subject in China, “where DNA collection is part of a sustained effort to persecute ethnic minorities and other groups.”

Second, there are concerns about whether the DNA samples used for some of the papers were collected with proper consent. In the past, it has been Chinese policy to forcibly collect DNA from certain groups.

Pandora Reportwrites that concerns over the articles were raised in March, and after months of waiting to get more information about the journal’s stance, editorial board members began resigning in protest. Other board members who have not resigned have expressed their disapproval but remain on the board to push for scrutiny of the papers.

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