A Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has warned Americans not to use DNA testing services, because the 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 at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on July 22.
“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 said, referencing the 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,” he said. “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.”
Officials need to have a “public discussion” about the protection of DNA information, health care information, and related data, as such data can “be procured and collected by our adversaries for the development of these systems,” Crow said, referring to biological weapons.
The company 23andMe previously denied selling the private information, including DNA data, of its customers. Representatives of 23andMe didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
About a year ago, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) warned 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 drew 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, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that U.S. adversaries also could open 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.”