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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.



Athletes are keeping their distance from a genetic test for concussion risksby Rebecca RobbinsSTATAugust 15th, 2016Sports competitors, insurers, and researchers are cautious about the privacy and geneticization issues behind testing for "athletic" genes.
Diversity, disability and eugenics: An interview with Rob Sparrowby Xavier SymonsBioEdgeAugust 11th, 2016Philosophers and the medical profession have been way too swift to make judgments about other people’s quality of life. We're not as far from the bad old eugenics as many think.
Finding Good Pain Treatment Is Hard. If You’re Not White, It’s Even Harder.by Abby GoodnoughThe New York TimesAugust 9th, 2016Researchers have found evidence of racial bias and stereotyping in recognizing and treating pain among people of color, particularly black patients.
Human Gene Editing: A Timeline of CRISPR Cover StoriesWith recent gene editing tools, a number of high-profile media are featuring CRISPR on their covers and front pages. We gather highlights since early 2015, along with opinion polls, TV shows, and editorial board statements.
To Err is Biotechnological: Reflections on Pew’s Human Enhancement Surveyby Gina Maranto, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 9th, 2016Biotechnologies aimed at human enhancement come with a guaranteed set of deficits, inadequacies, inconveniences, and risks.
Mind your genes! The dark legacy of eugenics lives onby Natasha MillerABC [Australia]August 8th, 2016The misguided science of behavioral genetics and the social engineering potential of CRISPR show we have much to remember about the history of eugenics.
In crisis-hit Venezuela young women seek sterilisationby Alexandra UlmerReutersAugust 3rd, 2016Food shortages, inflation, crumbling medical sector, and anti-abortion climate have caused a growing number of women to reluctantly opt for tubal ligations.
The Case Against Public Investment in Reproductive Genetic Modificationby Jessica Cussins, Biopolitical Times guest contributorAugust 3rd, 2016Philosopher Tina Rulli argues that three-person IVF germline modification is not a “life-saving” medical therapy.
Peter Thiel Is Very, Very Interested in Young People's Bloodby Jeff BercoviciInc.August 1st, 2016The controversial venture capitalist believes transfusions may hold the key to his dream of living forever.
Can genes really predict how well you’ll do academically?by Daphne MartschenkoThe ConversationJuly 26th, 2016Genetic intelligence research has eugenic histories and may minimize the role of social and political environments.
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