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Scientists slam company for testing ‘ethnic purity’ of Hungarian far-right politician

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The European Society of Human Genetics has denounced the company Nagy Gén for genetically testing a member of parliament from the Hungarian far-right Jobbik party to ensure he did not have a Roma or Jewish ethnic background.

The company examined 18 positions in the MP’s genome for variants that it said were characteristic of Roma and Jewish ethnic groups. It released a certificate claiming that the unnamed MP had none of those genome variants. The redacted document emerged on the web last month.

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“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,” Professor Joerg Schmidtke, President of ESHG, said.” In addition, the test 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.”

“We were shocked to hear that a laboratory authorized to carry out genetic analysis for diagnostic purposes carried out such a test,” Professor Béla Melegh, President of the Hungarian Society of Human Genetics added.

“Not only does it not serve a diagnostic purpose, but it has been used to create tension between people of different ethnic origins. We are asking the Hungarian government to prosecute the company concerned under the 2008 law on genetics, and to take action to ensure that similar abuse of genetic testing cannot take place in our country in future.”

Hungary’s Medical Research Council has reported the company to prosecutors.

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Hungary’s Jobbik party describes itself as a “principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party.” The party denies being “anti-Democratic Fascistic Nazi ultra-nationalists.”

[Jobbik rally via Rovás Alapítvány, Creative Commons licensed]

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