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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal
SJR: 0.123

ISSN Print: 2151-805X
ISSN Online: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/.2014011474
pages 339-350

The Ethics of Genetic Research on Indigenous Populations

Kim Skoog
Philosophy Program, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, University of Guam, P.O. Box 5032 UOG Station Mangilao, Guam

ABSTRACT

The focus of this ethics paper is limited to narrowly defined medical research on isolated indigenous populations for the purpose of discovering medical causes of human pathological conditions. Little will be said on ethical issues related to historic and recent scientific interest in tropical folk pharmacopoeias or decolonization. Given the asymmetrical relationship present in the topic of this paper, several ethical issues arise. Concerns over informed consent, truth telling, and confidentiality surface. Distribution of commercial profits and protection of intellectual or genetic property rights needs also to be addressed with regard to indigenous people. Worries over possible stigmatization of the people under study needs to be tackled. To facilitate the discussion of these issues, a case study involving a 1989 Arizona State University researcher's study on the Havasupai Tribe will be examined. Through this discussion, the article hopes to identify a number of ethical guidelines that future research with indigenous people should observe.


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