Special Report: China’s Gene Giant Harvests Data from Millions of Women


A Chinese gene company called BGI Group has been collecting millions of women’s genetic information through their global distribution of prenatal tests. The prenatal tests branded NIFTY: Non-Invasive Fetal TrisomY, have been used by over 8 million women globally. Furthermore, the BGI Group is in collaboration with the China’s People Liberation Army (PLA) and its affiliate military institutions, such as the Third Military Medical University. Between the years 2016 and 2017, BGI Group reported in a research paper that they had analyzed nearly 2 million prenatal tests. From these tests, projects are underway where comparisons among genomes were conducted to find genes that influence bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and malaria resistance. While China’s massive genome sequencing project aims to solve genetic diseases, susceptibility to cancers, and progress the efficacy of medicine there is also wide speculation that the data could be used for threatening military purposes — such as genetically modified soldiers. Such a project is already underway where the BGI Group, in collaboration with the PLA, is exploring genome sequences that would enable their soldiers to be more resilient in high altitude environments, such as Tibet and Xinjiang where conflict has broken out in June. 


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