Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) is reportedly protecting a CCP-linked biotech firm that Republicans appear ready to ban from operating in the United States after it was accused of stealing Americans’ DNA.
Peters’ decision to hold up the legislation might permanently prevent lawmakers from passing legislation to cause Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) to effectively lose its ability to operate in the United States.
The CCP-linked biotech giant concerns many lawmakers for several reasons:
- The Pentagon lists BGI as a “Chinese military company.”
- The 2021 U.S. intelligence assessment linked BGI to an effort to obtain human DNA from the United States.
- CCP-linked companies must share their compiled data with the CCP.
- BGI America has operated in the United States since 2010.
Lobbying efforts apparently swayed Peters, an establishment Democrat, to hold up the Republican-led legislative proposal to ban the CCP-linked biotech firm, the National Review reported:
Legislators are hoping to ban federal agencies from working with BGI by including a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, Congress’s annual defense-policy bill. The version passed by the House in July included an amendment barring such federal contracts. A bicameral conference committee is now considering the provision’s possible inclusion in the text of the NDAA that lawmakers hope to vote on by Christmas.
But Peters, as an aide confirmed when NR asked for comment, has withheld his approval of that provision’s inclusion in the conference text. As chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Peters has the ability to withhold his approval of NDAA provisions that fall under his jurisdiction, effectively blocking them from the final legislation.
Peters’s aide said that he “fully shares [the provision’s] goal — to address significant security concerns related to some biotech companies” — but that “the provision as currently drafted would be extremely difficult to effectively implement and would have adverse effects on American businesses and scientific progress.” Instead, Peters’s team maintains that he wants to pass an improved alternative. “Senator Peters has been working to help draft alternative, bipartisan consensus language that can be successfully implemented to achieve the goal of protecting American genetic information and boosting procurement of technology from non-adversarial sources,” the aide added.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) initially introduced the legislation against BGI earlier this year in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) supported similar legislation to ensure Gallagher’s language is included in the final NDAA conference report.