Hagerty, Peters Applaud Committee Approval of Bipartisan Legislation to Protect American Genetic Data from China-Controlled Companies

March 6, 2024

WASHINGTON—United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), today applauded committee approval of the Prohibiting Foreign Access to American Genetic Information Act of 2024 (S.3558), theirbipartisan legislation to ban U.S. taxpayer dollars and federal contracts, grants, and loans from going to biotechnology companies owned or controlled by a foreign adversary’s government, such as the Chinese Communist Party, whose business practices threaten U.S. national security. A fast-track ban would be applied to the BGI Group (BGI), MGI, Complete Genomics, WuXi AppTec, as well as their subsidiaries and affiliates, given the serious, known national security risks that currently pose due to their significant ties to Communist China. Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Backed by the PRC’s balance sheet, BGI, WuXi AppTec, and other highly-subsidized CCP-directed companies seek to undercut their way into dominating the U.S. biotech market while aggressively collecting the genetic and other sensitive medical data of tens of millions of Americans and transferring it back to China for malign or unknown purposes,” said Senator Hagerty. “We have seen this play before with Huawei and America’s telecoms sector. I’m pleased that the Committee sent a strong message this morning in favor of preventing U.S. taxpayer funds from advancing these efforts that put Americans at long-term risk, and I urge the full Senate to promptly take up this bill.”

“The threats posed by biotech companies controlled by foreign adversaries continue to grow. It’s important that when Americans undergo typical medical care, such as getting their blood drawn or other tests, they are confident their DNA will not end up in the wrong hands.” said Senator Peters. “This bill is a critical step to ensuring that Americans’ personal health and genetic information cannot be used by foreign adversaries to undermine our national security.” 

“Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) collects genetic data of Americans uses it for research with the Chinese military,” said Representative Gallagher. “The CCP will undoubtedly use the genetic data collected by BGI to further its malign aggression, potentially even to develop a bioweapon used to target the American people. The good news is that Congress can do something about it. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to support this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that finally takes action to protect Americans from actors like BGI.”  

“It is unacceptable for U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used to subsidize biotech companies of our foreign adversaries,” said Representative Krishnamoorthi. “By allowing these companies to amass and analyze large amounts of foreign genomic data, we risk our most sensitive information being used by our foreign adversaries against us. Our legislation addresses this problem by establishing a regulatory framework to prevent the flow of taxpayer dollars to biotech entities of concern. Closing this loophole is the first step in protecting the American bioeconomy and our national security, and ensuring our genomic data is kept safe and secure.”


Biotechnology is a rapidly expanding field with many beneficial applications, including promoting human health, improving agricultural production, and spurring industrial innovation. U.S. academic institutions and companies have accelerated investments in biotechnology to advance American science and maintain America’s global economic edge in this highly competitive and complex field. However, biological data, such as DNA sequences, can be exploited for military purposes, used to invade privacy, and used to violate human rights. The U.S. intelligence community has cited the Chinese Communist Party’s concerted efforts to acquire human genetic and related data through biotechnology companies, such as the BGI Group, as a serious threat to U.S. national security. Other adversarial governments also recognize the strategic value of biotechnology to gain military and economic advantage. The U.S. has taken some steps to mitigate these threats, including by adding BGI subsidiaries to the U.S. Department of Commerce Entity List – which identifies foreign entities that may pose a security threat to the United States. However, the Chinese government and other adversaries often seek ways to get around these restrictions, and a more comprehensive strategic approach to addressing these threats is needed.

According to reporting from Reuters, if the personal health information and genetic data of Americans, such as blood samples, DNA data, and individual medical history, get into the hands of adversarial foreign governments, it could pave the way for numerous security risks, including “genetically enhanced soldiers, or engineered pathogens to target the U.S. population or food supply.” According to the Washington Post, if companies who allow foreign governments to access this information are allowed to operate in the United States unchecked, those adversarial nations stand “to gain significant economic and strategic leverage against” the United States.

In addition to quickly banning the biotechnology companies with the most concerning business practices and ties to adversarial governments, the bipartisan legislation also establishes criteria to identify other companies of concern based on risks they may pose to U.S. national security. It also requires an annual review to ensure that new companies or existing companies that try to evade the ban through corporate restructuring can be readily identified as a potential threat. The bill also creates a redress process for biotechnology companies who are identified by the annual review process as a company of concern, allowing them the chance to appeal their designation before it is final. The bill includes provisions to help keep American pharmaceutical supply chains stable and allow current contracts to be completed before the ban applies, giving time for companies to figure out alternatives. The bill would ensure that U.S. government employees—including uniformed servicemembers— would still be able to access health care or related services when stationed overseas through granted waivers.