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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.



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.
San Francisco Lawmakers Could Pass Resolution Against Sex-Selective Abortion Bansby Nina Liss-SchultzRH Reality CheckSeptember 10th, 2014A resolution opposes sex-selective abortion bans on the basis that they perpetuate racial stereotypes that are harmful to women and communities of color.
A Manifesto for Playing God with Human Evolutionby Carl ElliottNew ScientistSeptember 8th, 2014Fancy living forever, or uploading your mind to the net? The Proactionary Imperative embraces transhumanist dreams, but reminds why we need medical ethics.
"We're All One of Troy's Babies": A Celebration of Troy Dusterby Victoria Massie, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 21st, 2014On Friday, August 15th, I was one among a multitude of people finding a seat in Booth Auditorium at UC Berkeley Law School for the event “Celebrating Troy Duster.”
Troy Duster’s Garden of Plugged-In Scholarship, and How it Grewby Barry BergmanNewsCenterAugust 20th, 2014An overview of the CGS co-sponsored event to honor Troy Duster's landmark works on the racial implications of drug policies and genetic research, his role as adviser and friend, and his fierce activism.
Moving on from Nicholas Wade to Continuing Concerns about Scientific Racismby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesAugust 14th, 2014Over 140 geneticists publicly criticized Nicholas Wade for distorting their work; but that is unlikely to stop such abuse permanently, and many issues still deserve airing.
Tuskegee Todayby Jessica CussinsThe Huffington PostAugust 8th, 2014Last week marked the 42nd anniversary of the Tuskegee syphilis study and many people took the opportunity to examine its relevance to the treatment of human research subjects today.
Geneticists Say Popular Book Misrepresents Research on Human Evolutionby Ewen CallawayNature NewsAugust 8th, 2014More than 130 leading population geneticists have condemned a book arguing that genetic variation between human populations could underlie global economic, political and social differences.
Tuskegee, Todayby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesAugust 7th, 2014Last week marked the 42nd anniversary of the Tuskegee syphilis study and many people took the opportunity to examine its relevance to the treatment of human research subjects today.
North Carolina and Genetics: From Sterilization to Research Subjectsby Victoria Massie, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 7th, 2014In the twentieth century, North Carolina was one of dozens of states that targeted certain citizens for eugenic sterilization. Today, in a town outside Charlotte, biotech researchers are asking for urine and blood samples and offering $10 gift cards to WalMart in exchange.
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