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Intelligence Warning on Bioeconomy Threats

US intelligence officials warn that Chinese firms are collecting genetic data from people across the world to build a large biological database, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, officials from the National Counterintelligence and Security Center are in a new report calling on US companies in sectors associated with the bioeconomy to better safeguard key technologies. Michael Orlando, the acting director of the counterintelligence center, tells it that countries like China and Russia having been trying to obtain US technology and intellectual property.

The Times adds that China in particular is focused on genetics and biotechnology. It adds that Edward You, the national counterintelligence officer for emerging and disruptive technologies, further cited a recent Reuters report that said the Chinese firm BGI developed its prenatal genetic test in collaboration with the Chinese military and that it was collected genetic data from people around the world. BGI in a statement after the Reuters report appeared disputed some of its assertations and said developed its prenatal genetic test by itself and said data collected from women outside China was not stored in China.

"We aren't telling people to decouple, but if you are going to do business in China, be smart about it," Orlando tells the Times.