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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.



Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonmentby Mark Joseph SternSlateJune 20th, 2016Her dissent following the 5-3 Utah v. Strieff decision explained the extent to which officers systematically violate predominantly black and brown people's bodily integrity during "stop and frisk" procedures.
Did Infamous Tuskegee Study Cause Lasting Mistrust of Doctors Among Blacks?by Aaron E. CarrollThe New York TimesJune 17th, 2016The Tuskegee Study was a horrific instance of racism and injustice in medical research, but racism is a systemic condition of US health care, not an isolated event.
The False Promise of DNA Testingby Matthew SchaerThe AtlanticJune 1st, 2016The forensic technique is becoming ever more common—and ever less reliable.
Tales of African-American History Found in DNAby Carl ZimmerThe New York TimesMay 27th, 2016Can genetic analyses can map histories of African American migration, slavery, and health? Critics argue such histories and identities cannot be reduced to genotype.
A book about the superiority of mixed-race people is going into a second printing, and the internet is pissedby Charles Pulliam-MooreFusionMay 24th, 2016Breeding Between the Lines relies on eugenic ideas to assert that mixed-race people are more attractive and healthy.
Is Egg Freezing Only for White Women?by Reniqua AllenThe New York Times [Opinion]May 21st, 2016In the context of egg freezing's unknown risks and success rates, black women are being excluded from "fertility insurance" conversations and face stigma.
The disturbing thing that happens when you tell people they have different DNAby Ana SwansonWonkblog [The Washington Post]May 13th, 2016A new study suggests that emphasizing essential differences based on genetics can encourage aggression between groups and stir support for war.
Meet The Scientists Fighting For More Studies On Genes And Racial Differences In Healthby Peter AldhousBuzzFeedMay 11th, 2016Many question if medicine should seek genetic differences based on a social construct like race, diverting research away from environmental health impacts.
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.
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