Indigenous people’s groups and NGOs have waged a long and bitter struggle against the Human Genome Diversity Project and similar efforts to collect the DNA of indigenous and other peoples without appropriate consent and sufficient safeguards against abuse.

The Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), the brainchild of Italian geneticist Luca Cavalli-Sforza, comprised of a group of scientists who in the 1990s proposed to collect biological samples from over 700 different population groups throughout the world. The HGDP’s ostensible aim was to map their DNA and in so doing, build a representative database of human genetic diversity. This seemingly laudable aim belies the fact that during 1997, the US National Research Council (NRC) found the HGDP’s proposed work to be ethically and scientifically inadequate.

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