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About Eugenics & Human Biotechnology


Eugenics entails using science and/or breeding techniques to produce individuals with preferred or "better" characteristics.

In the early twentieth century, eugenic ideologies and practices drew on genetic theories of the day in efforts to control human reproduction. This provided scientific cover for policy decisions about who should and shouldn't reproduce—decisions largely informed by discriminatory attitudes toward marginalized groups. In the United States, a widespread eugenics movement led to the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of people considered "unfit," to stringent immigration restrictions on undesired populations, and to public policies that encouraged "fitter families" to produce more children.

Eugenic ideas and rhetoric pioneered in the United States were taken up by the Nazis, who used them to justify their extermination of Jews, people with disabilities, and other groups. The Nazi genocides led to an almost complete rejection of eugenic ideas immediately after World War II.

In recent years, a small but disturbing number of scientists, scholars, and others have begun calling for "reconsideration." Some urge the development of inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes passed on to children) and the expanded use of selection technologies such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Some support these technologies as a way to "seize control of human evolution." Others see them as an efficient, rapid means to produce "enhanced" children.

There are still some traditional eugenicists who focus on purported racial and group differences in intelligence and behavior. But many transhumanists and other eugenicists seek to differentiate their high-tech visions from earlier programs. They say that they reject the racism and government coercion that characterized various twentieth century eugenicists, and argue that market dynamics and individual choice will drive twenty-first century eugenics.



Biopolitical News of 2014by Pete Shanks, Jessica Cussins & Marcy DarnovskyBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2014This is everything important that happened in biopolitics in 2014 (or close to it).
Prenatal Tests: Oversold and Misunderstoodby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorDecember 16th, 2014A scathing investigative report on the accuracy of noninvasive prenatal testing is likely to shift the terms of this important conversation.
The ‘Science’ of Eugenics: America’s Moral Detourby Marilyn M. SingletonJournal of American Physicians and SurgeonsDecember 15th, 2014Within 100 years, our deep thinkers went from declaring that in our new country “all men are created equal” to espousing the idea that “some men are more equal than others.”
Genetic Discrimination Means the Choice Between Life and Life Insuranceby Shimon Koffler Fogel and Bev Heim-MyersHuffington Post [Canada]December 12th, 2014Unfortunately, Canadians across the country currently face real as well as potential future discrimination based on their DNA.
Have New Prenatal Tests Been Dangerously Oversold?by Beth DaleyNew England Center for Investigative ReportingDecember 12th, 2014Many prenatal testing companies promise more than they can deliver. Two studies show that results can be a false alarm half of the time.
Commercialisation and the Moral Obligation to Create 'Designer' Babiesby John GallowayBioNewsDecember 8th, 2014Julian Savulescu made the case for a new 'eugenics', without ever using the word, at Progress Educational Trust's 2014 annual conference.
Couple Spends $50K to Choose Baby's Sex, Shining Light on Trend[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Beth GreenfieldYahooDecember 5th, 2014What if a boy wants to write poetry? What if a girl wants to play basketball? Not wear dresses? Announce that she’s transgender?
He May Have Unravelled DNA, but James Watson Deserves to be Shunnedby Adam RutherfordThe GuardianDecember 1st, 2014The scientist is crying poverty and selling his Nobel prize medal, but why should anyone be interested in his racist, sexist views?
Peru Forcibly Sterilized 300,000 Poor Women in the '90s. Now They Could Decide the Country's Future.by Iain AitchNew RepublicNovember 26th, 2014A new interactive documentary made in Peru may just help decide the political future of the whole country.
When Making Babies Goes High Tech: A Future Tense Event Recap[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Ariel BogleSlateNovember 24th, 2014From pre-implantation genetic screening to exo-wombs, these changes could even evolve our most basic notions of family and society.
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