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About Race & Human Biotechnology


Racist ideas and practices have marred the history of science, with low points including the eugenics movement and medical experiments on vulnerable populations. Public awareness and social oversight are needed to ensure that these sorts of occurrences are not repeated.

Today, some geneticists and biomedical researchers are searching for genetic differences between racial groups, raising concerns that these biological variations may be used to justify inequitable outcomes that are created by social, environmental, and economic forces. However well-meaning, this could lead to gross abuse.

Genetic researchers have been particularly interested in indigenous peoples. Their reproductive insularity has led to a genetic homogeneity that can facilitate searches for correlations between specific genes and phenotypic traits. Many indigenous people object to this work for a variety of practical and ethical reasons, including the patenting and commercialization of genetic information, the lack of fully informed consent, the potential for genetic discrimination, and the disproportionate allocation of public funds to genetic research rather than to direct health care and prevention programs.



Breaking from our Eugenic Pastby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2014As the victims of North Carolina's eugenics program finally receive compensation, we should not celebrate "the new eugenics" as some have argued, but learn carefully from this history.
Could Genomics Revive The Eugenics Movement?by Meredith SalisburyForbesNovember 8th, 2014There was a time when people in America were sterilized, sometimes unwittingly, by activists aiming to create a healthier, “better” population. As the progress of genomics accelerates, we need to remember the lessons of the past.
North Carolina Compensates Victims of Eugenic Sterilization[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Lily LouThe GuilfordianNovember 7th, 2014The drive behind these sterilizations was the eugenics movement: the pseudoscience of improving a society’s gene pool through reducing populations of people with negative traits.
‘Haunted Files': The Dark Side of Progressivismby Naomi Schaefer RileyNew York PostNovember 4th, 2014With funding from the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation, New York's Eugenics Records Office had the financial backing of the most important and “forward thinking” folks of the time.
The Real Problem With Sperm Banksby Keli GoffThe Daily BeastOctober 7th, 2014A woman recently sued a sperm bank that mistakenly sent her sperm from a black donor instead of a white donor. The lawsuit highlights the lack of regulation of an industry that has life and death implications and is not regulated accordingly.
Reproducing Raceby Dov FoxThe Huffington PostOctober 6th, 2014It is troubling for donor services to accentuate race in ways that invite parents to exclude wholesale from their consideration all donors of a particular race.
State to Send Out About 200 Eugenics Paymentsby Meghann EvansWinston-Salem JournalOctober 1st, 2014The first eugenics compensation payments are to be sent out by Oct. 31, and a second payment will be sent to victims next year.
Lawsuit: Wrong Sperm Delivered to Lesbian Coupleby Meredith RodriguezChicago TribuneOctober 1st, 2014An Ohio woman is suing her sperm bank, alleging that the company mistakenly gave her vials from an African-American donor, a fact that she said has made it difficult to raise her daughter in an all-white community.
An End to Sterilization Abuses in California Prisonsby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesSeptember 26th, 2014The signing of SB 1135 into California law by Gov. Jerry Brown is an important victory in the fight for the remembrance of our state's eugenic history and its ongoing implications.
Under the Skinby Nathaniel ComfortNatureSeptember 18th, 2014Three recent books focus on whether race is biological and therefore "real." But this question is a dead end, a distraction from what is really at stake in this debate: human social equality.
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