By Jack Phillips
A Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has warned Americans to not use DNA testing services because their data could be collected to create bioweapons targeting individuals or groups.
“You can’t have a discussion about this without talking about privacy and the protection of commercial data because expectations of privacy have degraded over the last 20 years,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said during a panel discussion in Colorado. “Young folks actually have very little expectation of privacy, that’s what the polling and the data show.”
“People will very rapidly spit into a cup and send it to 23andMe and get really interesting data about their background,” he added, making reference to a popular DNA testing and ancestry service.
But governments can “actually take someone’s DNA … you know, their medical profile and you can target a biological weapon that will kill that person or take them off the battlefield or make them inoperable,” Crow added, saying that companies such as 23andMe can sell a person’s DNA.
“And guess what? Their DNA is now owned by a private company. It can be sold off with very little intellectual property protection or privacy protection and we don’t have legal and regulatory regimes to deal with that,” he said alongside Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, at the Aspen Security Forum on Friday.
Officials have to have a “public discussion” about the protection of DNA information, healthcare information, and related data as such data can “be procured and collected by our adversaries for the development of these systems,” the congressman added, referring to biological weapons.
The company previously denied selling private information, including DNA, of its customers. The Epoch Times has contacted 23andMe for comment.
China, Russia Collecting American DNA
About a year ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) issued a warning that Chinese and Russian laboratories were processing the DNA tests of Americans via Medicare and Medicaid.
“It is ridiculous that our current policies enable the Chinese Communist Party to access Americans’ genomic data,” he said in a statement in July 2021. “There is absolutely no reason that Beijing, which routinely seeks to undermine US national security, should be handed the genomic data of American citizens.”
Last year, some federal intelligence officials said in a report that they believe COVID-19 likely emerged from a high-security laboratory in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health has drawn congressional scrutiny over funds it provided to a third-party to allegedly carry out controversial gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
During the panel discussion, Ernst said U.S. adversaries could also open up a new battlefront against the United States by targeting food supplies on a vast scale via biological weapons.
“If we look at food security and what can our adversaries do with biological weapons that are directed at our animal agriculture, at our agricultural sector … highly pathogenic avian influenza, African swine fever,” she said. “All of these things have circulated around the globe, but if targeted by an adversary, we know that it brings about food insecurity. Food insecurity drives a lot of other insecurities around the globe.”