I have to make a correction regarding the title "Did Biobank secure consent?" given to my letter (Letters, Aug. 12, page 8). This title is incorrect. I should have indicated more clearly in my letter that the research which Ko Ying-chin (葛應欽) and Li Shu-chuan (李淑絹) used in filing US Patent Application Number 20050170387 is from a research project not affiliated with the Taiwan Biobank. The biobank is still stalled in its implementation phases, which is why public relations methods such as proclamations to advancing Aboriginal health are being used.
I wanted to bring attention to two other major issues.
First, an important precedent is set by the patent application that uses research on Atayal Aborigines and there is a lack of debate regarding the ethical implications of this precedent. Second, Ko's interest in having filed this patent arguably conflicts with his position on the biobank implementation committee in which he will likely be considered an expert on Aboriginal health issues.
Therefore, with his interests in patent number 20050170387, Ko's participation in the biobank cannot be regarded as disinterested or neutral, and this constitutes a conflict of interest. It is just these sorts of issues that the biobank oversight committees have to make important decisions about. In closing, if Ko's appointment to the biobank's implementation committee is any indication, then the credibility of the biobank's pledges to maintain high ELSI (Ethical, Legal and Social Implications) standards with regards to protecting Taiwan Aboriginal rights is very limited.