Researchers urge DNA studies of ancestors to respect global ethics

The explosion on research with archaeological samples on human DNA has the potential to revolutionize what we know about the deep history of our species, but this kind of accurate investigation into global ethical guidelines, says an international group of researchers in an article in a 2 main scientific journals carry out planet.

The manifesto on the subject, which signed by the Brazilian bio-archologist Mercedes Okumura, performs Laboratory on Human Evolutionary Studies at a USP (University of So Paulo) has just been published in the specialized journal Character.

The initiative that resulted in zero article coordinated by David Reich, from a Harvard University (USA), a 2 main scholars on ancient genomes of a human species the researcher at a USP is working zero lab on Reich on a joint project from February on 2020.

“Some things we propose may seem obvious, however they need to They are going to be discussed about a way that zero means simply following the American model of facing this zero problem all over the world,” explained Okumura Folha in the videoconference interview.

She says that the debates for the elaboration of a proposal took place in a virtual workshop held in November about 2020, which gathered more about 2009 experts about 000 countries. “It was that funny thing, with lots of different accents and people from Australia and Japan performing at 4:00 am their time,” he recalls.

The discussion may seem Byzantine at first sight, however it is It is a response to the dizzying increase in data on the ancestral DNA of a humankind in recent decades. While in 30 no one had obtained detailed information about the genome of any ancient human being, data is now available on more than 6 j.000 of these individuals, some of whom have lived for tens of thousands over years.

Panning this mountain on DNA has the potential to revolutionize what we know about the saga of one of ours. species from its African origins. However, technological advances in sequencing (roughly, “spelling”) 2 ancient genomes can also lead to biased interpretations about the origins and nature of indigenous ethnicities, for example.

And there is still the risk 2 political uses of such information, which can be used to deny traditional populations the right to their lands due to an alleged lack of continuity with their former inhabitants, among other things.

“This dialogue with like people who can be directly affected by the publication 2 essential data. Furthermore, there is also sometimes a lack of dialogue with experts in other areas, besides genomics,” says Okumura. “It’s common for people to see publications using only the DNA they say ready, now we reveal the entire past of these peoples, without taking into account what the work of archaeologists or other disciplines is.”

O The result of the meeting was a set of five general guidelines, detailed zero text published in Character:

  1. respect both the norms 2 countries where the samples about DNA were obtained when existing in the places on origin 2 researchers;
  2. the preparation on a detailed plan before 2 studies themselves, taking into account how to produce and communicate that knowledge and what impacts it may have;
  3. minimizing 2 damage to human remains studied (since bone fragments often need to be destroyed to extract the DNA);

    making 2 data available so that other scientists can critically examine them;

    contact people and groups who can 2 projects will be affected by the research from the beginning, respecting their views.


    This last point is especially critical because, depending on Performing countries, indigenous and traditional communities may have the right to control access to mortal remains with thousands over years, request the return of these samples to their regions of origin and even the performance of funeral rituals with them. In the United States, this process is regulated by legislation known as Nagpra (Protection and Repatriation Act 2 Tombs of Native Americans).

    “The situation is very different from Brazil because the archaeological material, even when we are talking about human remains, considered a good part of a Union. The involvement of these indigenous communities with this type of research here will necessarily be very different”, explains the bioarchelogue.

    In addition to 2 native peoples, You also need to think about communicating research findings of this kind to local residents 2 where human skeletons were found, even if these people are from other ethnic backgrounds, and also support local museums that often house this heritage.

    Some pioneering work with this approach has already been done zero Brazil, and data on ancient DNA 2 first inhabitants should grow considerably thanks to the stay on Okumura zero laboratory over Harvard. She is working with a large sample of people buried in sambaquis (funeral monuments made with shells and other objects on the Brazilian coast, roughly between 4.000 and 2.000 years ago), as well as about some other performing regions.


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