With Labour favourites to form the next government, campaigners have pressed the party to protect research and technology linked to UK genomic data.
They suggest Labour should make genomics part of the UK’s critical natural infrastructure, akin to other protected industries. They warn that without adequate protection UK genomic data could end up in the hands of hostile foreign nations.
The letter, sent to newly installed Shadow Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Peter Kyle, was compiled by almost 50 lawyers, doctors, scientists, and human rights campaigners. This also comes amidst a warning from MI5 that British businesses are at severe risk of having their intellectual property compromised by states hostile to the West.
The letter states that genomic data could be used as a repressive tool by authoritarian governments and calls for improved regulation in this area alongside better cybersecurity protections and public education. Labour have so far not responded.
MPs Alistair Carmichael and Jim Shannon raised this exact debate in a Westminster Hall debate in March of this year. Mr Carmichael declared ‘The truth of the matter is that genomics is playing a role not just in the advancement of science but in economic competition between the UK and our allies on the one hand and competitor states on the other. It is a new front in the defence of the realm.’