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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.



Here’s Why that Race-Sex Abortion Ban Bill is So Discriminatoryby Sital KalantryWomen's eNewsApril 19th, 2016The bill accuses women of racially discriminating against their own fetuses.
Human Experimentation: Rethinking The 'Bad Old Days'by Barron LernerForbesApril 19th, 2016The horrors in our medical past require that we not brush them aside as just wrong but that we look hard at why they happened.
Is there a racial "care gap" in medical treatment? [Video][With CGS Advisory Board Member Dorothy Roberts]by Gwen IfillPBS NewsHourApril 5th, 2016A new study finds African-American patients are often treated differently. Among its findings: Medical students believe that African-Americans feel less pain than white patients, and that their skin is thicker.
The disturbing reason some African American patients may be undertreated for painby Sandhya SomashekharThe Washington PostApril 4th, 2016A recent study shows that many white medical students and residents believe inaccurate and at times "fantastical" differences based on race.
Race, Reparations and the Search for Our Molecular Soulby Michael SchulsonReligion Dispatches (USC Annenberg)March 30th, 2016In a recent book, Alondra Nelson maps the rise of genetic testing among African Americans, investigating the ways that genetic technology is crossing over into social and political worlds.
‘Baby Carmen’ surrogacy custody trial opensby APBangkok PostMarch 23rd, 2016An American-Spanish couple open a high-profile custody battle for a baby girl born to a Thai surrogate mother, who wanted to keep the child when she found out they were gay.
Ma Na Sapna – A Mother’s Dreamby Gabriele Werner-Felmayer & Carmel Shalev, Biopolitical Times guest contributorsMarch 23rd, 2016A 2013 film on transnational surrogacy in India brings a sensitive view of the surrogate mothers who are otherwise largely invisible, and allows them to speak for themselves.
I Can't Breatheby Anne Fausto-SterlingBoston ReviewMarch 21st, 2016The belief in racial essentialism means that the medical curriculum pays scant attention to the means by which the social experience of race produces disease.
If we’re not careful, epigenetics may bring back eugenic thinkingby Maurizio MeloniThe Conversation [UK]March 15th, 2016In focusing on the environment as a cause for many unwanted conditions, epigenetics has the potential to advance social justice, but its problematic implications have arisen before.
Of evil mice and men: Can we blame crime on our genes?by Alan MartinAlphrMarch 14th, 2016Various studies are finding genetic and mental indicators for criminal behaviour - in lab mice.
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