Mexican Samples, Latino DNA: The Trajectory of a National Genome in Transnational Science

Emily Elizabeth Vasquez, Vivette García Deister


Experts have widely promoted developing country investment in national genome projects in order to ensure their inclusion in medical genomic advances, to protect their genomes from foreign exploitation, and to foster their participation in a future genomics-based bioeconomy.  In this context, the Mexican federal government’s investments to establish the National Institute of Genomic Medicine in 2004, that institute’s subsequent efforts to map the “Mexican genome” between 2004 and 2009, and the passage of legislation in 2008 to protect Mexico’s “genomic sovereignty” drew attention as the most comprehensive national genomics program among the world’s emerging economies. Given the prominence of Mexico’s decision to pursue its “national genome” and to understand how this approach to science policy has unfolded with time, we track major developments in the field of genomic medicine in Mexico and the trajectory of the “Mexican genome” over the last decade.  Rather than the nation-state bound “Mexican genome,” we show that flexibility and ambiguity with regard to genomic identity has been instrumental amid the increasingly transnational and public-private nature of this scientific field. Over the last decade, Mexican samples have frequently been re-branded as the source of flexible, panethnic “Latino” or “Latin American” DNA.


national genomes; genomic sovereignty; panethnicity; ambiguity; bioeconomy; Latin America

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