A research project that aims to collect, store, analyze, and develop treatments from genetic information obtained from isolated indigenous communities before their gene pool
becomes polluted or they become extinct.
Do not confuse the HGDP with the Human Genome Project.
The project has been highly controversial because deception has been employed to obtain blood samples from indigenous persons. Typically a research team will trek to a remote village where they will provide dental and medical services for the indigenous community residing there. Communities in these remote areas are very receptive to this as they do not have regular access to Western medical services. Researchers will tell their subjects that they are taking blood for disease testing, but in actuality this blood will be transferred back to laboratories to used for DNA sequencing. The potential then exists for genes to be found, patented, and licensed with none of the benefit (either monetary or medical) returning to the tribe from which the genetic material originated.
Indigenous groups are also concerned that this amounts to a neo-colonial attempt to use indigenous people as a natural resource, and that once they have been "mined out" of all their valuable genetic information they will be treated as having no further value.
Because of these ethical concerns the HGDP has been condemned by the EU Parliament, World Council of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere, and over 18 other indigenous groups. In addition UNESCO has refused to endorse the HGDP.
The HGDP's North American Committee is based out of the Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies at Stanford University and is funded by grants from the U.S. Government.