Thermo Fisher Scientific Halts Sequencer Sales in Xinjiang

New York, NY 2/20/19; New York, NY 2/21/19The Wall Street Journal has reported that Thermo Fisher Scientific will cease sales and service of its NGS systems in China’s Xinjiang region, following reports of the government’s use of a DNA database for surveillance and human rights abuses in the area. “We recognize the importance of considering how our products and services are used—or may be used—by our customers,” wrote the company in a statement to the paper. A New York Times article published the same week detailed allegations that DNA collection and profiling are used to monitor the Xinjiang’s Uighur ethnic group. The regional government denied the reports, stating that the sequencers are for “internal use.” Thermo Fisher told The New York Times that it is working with the US government to ascertain how its NGS technology was used in the region.

Thermo Fisher’s sales of the systems were the subject of a US Department of Commerce investigation last year that found the company did not violate foreign licensing rules related to supporting crime control in China. The investigation was undertaken at the request of a Congressional committee (see IBO 8/31/18).

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