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Concerning Links

US lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are concerned about ties between the US and Chinese genomics firms, the Irish Times reports in two articles.

As the Irish Times reports, Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services last month that asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made payments for genetic testing to any US firm that has partnered with BGI, WuXi NextCode Genomics, or other company with ties to the Chinese government. Additionally, the senators note that BGI and WuXi have enlisted the Chinese telecom firm Huawei to aid in genomic analysis, a link they call "alarming" as Huawei is a state-directed firm and could provide it with Americans' genetic data.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies have raised concerns that such data could be used to develop bioweapons that can target a particular person or group of people, which the Irish Times notes "sounds like something out of a Netflix spy thriller."

As GenomeWeb has reported, WuXi NextCode Genomics responded to news of the letter to note that it is an international company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and that most of its management and board members are US citizens. Additionally, according to the Irish Times, WuXi NextCode has told the senators that it stores its US data on US servers and its Chinese data on Chinese servers, but not one from Huawei.