In DepthSCIENTIFIC ETHICS

Study of ‘sea nomads’ under fire in Indonesia

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Science  27 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6400, pp. 318-319
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6400.318

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Summary

A recent paper showing why Indonesia's Bajau people are such great divers drew worldwide attention as a striking example of recent human evolution. But the study has come under fire in Indonesia. Indonesian officials say the research team failed to obtain ethical approval from a local review board and took DNA samples out of the country without the proper paperwork. And some Indonesian scientists complain that the only local researcher involved in the study had no expertise in evolution or genetics and only helped with logistical matters. The research team, headed by Eske Willerslev, director of the University of Copenhagen's Centre for GeoGenetics, says it had a research permit from the Indonesian government and was unaware it did anything wrong.