Fulfilling the Human Microbiome Project (henceforth known as HMP)’s tantalizing potential requires a comprehensive sample of human microbiomes. And when I write comprehensive, I mean comprehensive. Comprehensive as in ideally every population of humans on the planet would participate. The study published this summer only sampled 242 ‘healthy’ Texans and Missourians and is therefore what its title claims it is: a framework for microbiome study. To get to the really juicy bits of this vein of scientific inquiry we need hugely diverse samples. And here is the rub: how do researchers ethically collect HMP data from hesitant (or un-) willing populations – for example, indigenous North American communities?

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