The Dallas based US company, Maxus Energy Corporation has been accused of collecting blood samples of the indigenous Huaorani people in Ecuador.
Since 2012, The Ecuadorian National Secretary of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (Senescyt) has been conducting an investigation following a complaint made to the ombudsman in 2010, which showed that Maxus lied to the Huaorani people to get pints of blood, telling them their objective was disease prevention.
The head of the Higher Education and Science Ministry in Ecuador, René Ramirez, said that there were over 3,500 procedures in which unauthorized blood samples were taken from Huaorani people, who live in Ecuador's Amazon basin.
The Ecuadorian Government granted the Maxus Energy Corporation a concession to explore for oil on native lands in 1992.
On Saturday, current Ecuadorian President Rafeal Correa said that the government is “studying a course of legal action to be taken in the coming weeks.”
He went on to say that the blood was wanted in US research because of the indigenous group's isolation, and their immunity to some illnesses.
The Ecuadorian constitution has a ban on “undue application and use of human genetic material.”
However there is no US federal law to provide a legal basis for the claim in court.
Correa has also drawn links in the same speech to the Harvard University Medical school, and the Coriell Institute of medical research, which as it's webpage headline claims that it has “the world's most diverse collection of cell lines, DNA, and other biological resources.”
The Institute has said it has not passed the samples on for profit, and was to “be used to understand the range of variation of human DNA in different populations.”
There are numerous academic articles which rely on the Huaorani blood samples which are from research universities in the USA and Spain, which may have come from these illegal samples.