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Proposed genetic database on Tongans opposed

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7335.443/a (Published 23 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:443
  1. Bob Burton
  1. Canberra

    A proposal by a Melbourne based biotechnology company, Autogen, to establish a database of genetic information on the population of Tonga in the South Pacific is floundering after opposition from church and pro-democracy groups.

    In November 2000 Autogen triumphantly announced to the Australian Stock Exchange that it had signed an agreement with the Tongan health ministry to undertake a project “aimed at identifying genes that cause common diseases using the unique population resources in the Kingdom of Tonga.”

    The project is the product of an alliance between Autogen and Merck Lipha, a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical giant Merck. Merck holds a 15% stake in Autogen and …

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