Thursday, December 5, 2019

China is Taking DNA from Uighurs to Predict Physical Features

The Uighurs are an ethnic group in northwestern China that are predominantly Muslim. Since 2014, China has detained some 800,000 Uighurs and other ethnic minority groups and subjected them to brutal conditions.

In these detainment camps, they are collecting blood samples from these people under the guise of a "mandatory health checkup." However, it is believed that the Chinese are taking these peoples' DNA without their consent. What they're doing with this DNA is quite concerning.

With this DNA, the Chinese government is developing a technology that will allow them to predict a person's phenotype and physical appearance. As I mentioned above, it is believed that this DNA is being taken without consent and will be used to prosecute the Uighurs and and other predominantly Muslim groups. What their DNA phenotypic technology will allow the Chinese to do is to predict certain phenotypes such as skin color, eye color, ancestry, and other features with an ultimate goal of identifying them visually from a genetic sample alone.

Early version of DNA phenotyping have already been used in the United States in criminal investigations. In 2015, police in South Carolina took advantage of this technology to narrow in on a suspect's appearance, and last year in Maryland it was used to help identify a murderer.

DNA phenotypic still isn't very precise, but people are worried that China is going to use this technology to "control" its Uighur population. Essentially, China is developing a technology to hunt these people. This comes at great concern to the world and the genetic community. DNA should not be taken without someone's consent, especially not for these reasons.


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