IPCB Briefing Paper on the CBD Int'i Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing
THE INAPPROPRIATE USE OF GENETIC ANALYSIS IN REPATRIATION
Recently, much interest has been generated in the prospect of using DNA evidence in the
context of repatriation. Two potential purposes are cited. First, DNA might be useful to identify
whether human remains are “Native American” and therefore subject to the Native American
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (“NAGPRA”) 25 U.S.C. 3001 et al. Second, DNA
analysis might support or deny claims that human remains are “culturally affiliated” with a given
tribe, and therefore subject to repatriation by that tribe under NAGPRA.
While various generally accepted methods are available as a means to support
repatriation efforts, DNA is being touted as the new “scientific” (and therefore unquestionable)
means by which ancestry can be determined. Because those who would deny repatriation efforts
cannot support their position pursuant to the more common methods, they are resorting to the
unproven science of genetics to trump tribal positions.2
However, several fundamental shortcomings involving the use of genetic analysis bring
into question the viability of using DNA as the basis for repatriation decisions. This briefing
paper addresses some of the issues surrounding the use of DNA evidence in the context of
and Consultation in Genetic Research on American Indians and Alaska
Consent and consultation,
are legal and moral requirements before federal funding is provided
for genetic research involving tribes. Nonetheless, tribes have
been studied without even knowing it, much less being consulted
and consenting. This paper explains the consultation and consent
requirements, and what can be done to ensure that they are observed.
You Know about?
Some startling information
about genetic research that has been done in the name of "science".
- Not a Valid Test of Native Identity
The common misperception
that DNA can determine whether a person is "native" or not is
based on faulty science, as well as an affront to the notion of
tribal authority to determine who is a tribal member. This paper
explains how the science cannot even do what it is claimed to
be capable of doing. This issue arises frequently in enrollment,
repatriation, and federal recognition contexts.
What's the Connection?
IPCB frequently receives
questions about the likelihood that genetic research on tribal
populations could be a precursor to genetically-based biowarfare.
This paper addresses the connection and provides guidance on whether
such a specter should be a cause of concern.
The Human Genome Diversity Project
and Its Implications for Indigenous Peoples
Originally published as one in a series of info sheets on Intellectual
Property Rights by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Patenting of Life and Its Implications
for Indigenous Peoples
Originally published as one in a series of info
sheets on Intellectual Property Rights by the Institute for Agriculture
and Trade Policy in 1995.