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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.



The Scope of Eugenics: A Workshopby Jonathan ChernoguzMay 27th, 2015The four-day workshop, organized by the Edmonton-based Living Archives Project on Eugenics in Western Canada, brought together early-career scholars interested in eugenics to discuss historical models and forms of "Newgenics."
Eugenics Lurk in the Shadow of CRISPRby Robert PollackScience MagazineMay 22nd, 2015 This opening to germline modification is, simply put, the opening of a return to the agenda of eugenics: the positive selection of “good” versions of the human genome and the weeding out of “bad” versions.
Do We Really Need an Even Better Prenatal Test for Down Syndrome?by Chris KaposyImpact EthicsMay 19th, 2015Because of their ease of use and their non-invasiveness, the new non-invasive prenatal tests for Down syndrome could contribute to increased numbers of selective terminations of pregnancy.
Editing Human Germline Cells Sparks Ethics Debate[Quotes CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Tina Hesman SaeyScienceNewsMay 6th, 2015Powerful new gene editing tools could expand the scope of DNA alteration, forever changing humans' genetic destiny. Not everyone thinks scientists should wield that power.
Why Facebook’s Egg Donor Ads Freak Me Out (And Should Freak You Out Too)by Sayantani DasGupta, Biopolitical Times guest contributorApril 27th, 2015With the disturbing aspects of the ova donation industry in mind, the additional digital twist of the personalized Facebook ova ad is particularly disturbing.
Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification[Press statement]April 22nd, 2015“No researcher has the moral warrant to flout the globally widespread policy agreement against altering the human germline.”
Journalist Tells Sad History of NC Eugenics Programby John DrescherNews & ObserverApril 17th, 2015For years the sterilization program was considered a forward-thinking approach to prevent those who were institutionalized or on welfare from having children.
The Conflict Between Human Rights And Biotechnological Evolutionby Srinivas RamanEurasia ReviewApril 11th, 2015Genetically modifying humans has the potential to violate human rights and freedom and could possibly lead to catastrophic consequences for the human race if legalized and encouraged.
Genome Editing Poses Ethical Problems that we Cannot Ignoreby Anthony Wrigley and Ainsley NewsonThe ConversationMarch 31st, 2015With great power comes great responsibility – and few subjects elicit such heated debates about moral rights and wrongs.
Attorneys: Sterilizations were Part of Plea Deal Talksby  Sheila BurkeAssociated PressMarch 28th, 2015Nashville prosecutors have made sterilization of women part of plea negotiations at least four times in the past five years.
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