Document sent by the Brazilian Public Attorney to the Universities
of Michigan and Pennsylvania (United States) about the collection
of blood samples from Yanomami Indians by North American researchers.
Document nš 115/2002/CaDIM/MPF
Brasília, 7 March 2002
Subject: Yanomami blood
We understand that, in the 1960s, American researchers took blood
sample from Yanomami Indians, whose territory is located on the
Brazilian-Venezuelan border. The samples were stored at the Penn
State University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. We would like you to
clarify the following questions:
1. Are there any samples of Yanomami blood in the laboratories
of these universities?
2. How many samples are there and what is there state of conservation?
3. What is the origin of these samples?
4. Are there any documents proving that informed consent was obtained
during the collection of the samples?
5. When were the samples collected in Brazil? Are there any documents
regarding official authorisation, conceded by Brazilian institutions,
for the research which gave permission to collect the blood samples?
6. What is the juridical-administrative status of the retention
of these samples by the respective laboratories?
7. What are the links between the retention of the material and
the use of Yanomami blood samples and the Human Genome Diversity
Project and what is the relationship between this project and
official institutions of the United States government, such as
the US Department of Energy?
8. Were the samples reprocessed to extract DNA for use in new
9. Any there any documents proving that informed consent was obtained
for this new research?
10. Were blood samples or Yanomami DNA ceded (donated or sold)
to other laboratories, public or private? What was the nature
of the contract? Which laboratories?
I am enclosing a copy of the Brazilian Constitution which shows
the legal right of the Public Federal Ministry to carry out this
Ela Wiecko Volkmer de Castilho
Assistent Attorney-General of the Republic
(Indigenous Communities and Minorities)