By David Cyranoski
China this week announced a new law restricting the collection and use of genetic resources from people in the country — including biological samples that yield DNA, such as blood, and data gleaned from sequencing them. There will be hefty fines for unauthorized collection or use of genetic material.
The law, which goes into effect on 1 July, formalizes restrictions on such activities that have been in place since 1998. Scientists working for foreign organizations will still need to collaborate with a domestic research organization to do research with genetic material from Chinese citizens and to take DNA resources outside of China, and such collaborations require the science ministry’s approval.
The ministry restricted export of biological samples and introduced other interim restrictions on the use of genetic resources in 1998. The decision followed outrage in the Chinese media when it was revealed that an international pharmaceutical company had collected blood from thousands of Chinese people for genetic research.
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