Research Council has begun investigations into a company that provided a
politician with a certificate characterising his 'racial purity'.
Nagy Gen Diagnostic and Research Company, certified an unnamed politician of
Hungary's Jobbik party for his lack of Jewish or Roma traits. The
Jobbik party, the third-largest party in Hungarian parliament, has a history of
antisemitism and anti-Roma conduct.
Dr Moshe Kantor, president of the
European Jewish Congress, stated: 'This test demonstrates a very troubling
escalation by the Jobbik party, which already espouses very problematic views,
into a genetic and racial ideology that appears to be a short step below a
fully-fledged Nazi worldview'.
Dr Istvan Rasko,
director of the Institute of Genetics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences said: 'This test is complete nonsense and the affair is very
harmful to the profession of clinical genetics'. He affirmed that the tests could not have determined
ethnic origins by looking at 18 positions on the genome.
News of the politician's
certificate went viral on the internet in May, leading to wide public criticism
of the company. One result was that Nagy Gen lost one of its key financial
partners; Jewish three-time Olympic water-polo gold medalist Tibor Benedek cut
his ties with the company.
The European Society of Human
Genetics (ESHG) confirmed its stance that the use of genetic testing to
determine ethnic backgrounds is unethical and scientifically foolish.
Professor Joerg Schmidtke, the president
of the ESHG commented: 'This
is a gross distortion of the values of genetic testing, which is intended to be
used to diagnose disease rather than to claim racial purity.'
The test, Professor Schmidtke
added, 'proves nothing; it is impossible to deduce someone's origins from
testing so few places in the genome. I am sure that clinical geneticists
worldwide will join me in condemning this scandalous abuse of a technology that
was developed to help the sick, rather than to promote hatred'.
In a statement on their website, Nagy Gen says it 'rejects all forms
of discrimination, so it has no right to judge the purpose for which an
individual will use his or her test result, and so for ethical reasons it could
not have refused to carry out the test'.