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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.



At Gene Editing Meeting, Scientists Discuss God, Racism, Designer Babies[originally published as "At Gene Editing Meeting, Scientists Discuss God, Racism, Designer Babies"]by Nidhi SubbaramanBuzzFeedJuly 14th, 2016Opponents of germline gene editing have strong concerns both around the safety and ethics of altering reproductive cells.
These People Were Likely Victims of a Swedish Eugenics Institutionby Jordan G. TeicherSlateJuly 5th, 2016A photographer highlights the photos of eugenics victims whose stories have been ignored over the years.
A DNA Test Won’t Explain Elizabeth Warren’s Ancestryby Matt MillerSlateJune 29th, 2016Could more data that would improve the precision of ancestry tests? Probably not — in fact, it might get more complicated.
Read Sonia Sotomayor’s Atomic Bomb of a Dissent Slamming Racial Profiling and Mass Imprisonmentby Mark Joseph SternSlateJune 20th, 2016Her dissent explains the extent to which police 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.
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