June 12, 2012
Company probed for certifying Hungarian politician’s racial purity
Hungary’s Medical Research Council requested an investigation of a company that tested a politician of the extremist right-wing Jobbik party for Jewish or Roma heritage, according to science journal Nature.
The unnamed lawmaker requested the Nagy Gen Diagnostic and Research Company give him a certificate indicating his Hungarian racial “purity.”
In May, when the certificate appeared online on a right-wing website, the Hungarian media widely publicized the story, though without the name of its subject, which was blacked out.
Nagy has experienced some repercussions, with one of its financial partners, Jewish three-time Olympic water-polo gold medalist Tibor Benedek, ending his involvement with the company.
Jozsef Mandl, secretary of the Medical Research Council, was quoted as saying that the certificate is “professionally wrong, ethically unacceptable—and illegal” following a June 7 discussion that concluded that it broke the stipulation in the 2008 Law on Genetics because testing is purely for health reasons. The Hungarian Society of Human Genetics also protested the tests.
Istvan Rasko, director of the Institute of Genetics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said the test could not possibly have determined ethnic origins the way it was carried out.
“This test is complete nonsense and the affair is very harmful to the profession of clinical genetics,” Rasko said.