Senator Marshall Asks USDA To Review Research Collaborations with China-Controlled Data Firm

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. led a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting information about their relationship with BGI, a genomic data collection firm deemed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to be linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army. Since 2018, USDA has awarded over $1 million to BGI in research grants through collaboration with its Agriculture Research Service (ARS). 

The coalition of BGI and USDA-ARS joined the Earth Biogenome Project (EBP), a global genetic research initiative that uses BGI as a primary data collection and storage partner. Both BGI and China National GeneBank, another CCP-controlled entity, serve in EBP’s leadership. BGI has been leading the PRC’s efforts to create the world’s largest genomic repository. 

In light of the access by BGI and EBP to sensitive American DNA and federal government funding, Senator Marshall is asking USDA about precautions taken to protect this information. Senators Marsha Blackburn, Marco Rubio, and Susan Collins cosigned Senator Marshall’s letter to the USDA.
The Epoch Times carried an exclusive story on the letter Senator Marshall and his colleagues sent to the USDA.

“Today we write about our concerns about U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored research coalitions involving Chinese biotech organizations that may pose a threat to U.S. economic and national security. Specifically, the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) previously announced its partnership with the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a ‘version of the moonshot, an effort that will yield millions of powerful new solutions to agriculture’s challenges.’ Subsequent to that 2018 announcement, USDA-ARS awarded $1 million to BGI, a Chinese-government controlled genomics company that was recently linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA)” the Senators wrote.

“As the agency’s chief research division, USDA-ARS must be extra vigilant in safeguarding U.S.-funded research that has potential to be weaponized against the U.S., especially when projects involve countries of concern, like China. Research partners and contracts must be thoroughly vetted to identify potential threats to U.S. security whenever genomic modification research or dual use research of concern (DURC) is involved,” the Senators continued.

“Even if USDA stopped paying BGI directly, through partnering with BGI and sharing U.S. intellectual property, the collaboration could endanger our security by giving China a strategic competitive edge to hold and store data that U.S. scientists have worked hard to develop,” the Senators concluded.

You may click HERE or scroll below to read Senator Marshall’s full letter.