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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.



How to Watch the Biggest Science Story of 2017by Leah LowthorpBiopolitical TimesJanuary 19th, 2017Less than three weeks into the new year, gene editing is already set to be one of the biggest stories of 2017. Here are three key points to watch out for.
CGS Board Member Leads Redress Call for California Survivors of Eugenic Sterilization by Marcy DarnovskyJanuary 16th, 2017Scholars estimate that more than 800 people alive today were sterilized in California state institutions, and call on the state to consider compensation and redress.
How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Jim KozubekTimeJanuary 9th, 2017There are no superior genes. Genes have a long and layered history, and they often have three or four unrelated functions, which balance against each other under selection.
2016 Fear vs Hope: Gene Editing— Terrible turning point?by Pete ShanksDeccan ChronicleJanuary 1st, 2017As the tools for gene editing rapidly advance, we approach our best chance to prevent the rise of a modern, uncontrolled and dangerously ill-considered techno-eugenics.
Unexpected Risks Found In Replacing DNA To Prevent Inherited Disordersby Jill NeimarkNPRJanuary 1st, 2017Scientists are increasingly concerned that "3-person IVF" techniques may allow flawed mitochondria to resurface and threaten a child's health.
China’s $9 billion effort to beat the U.S. in genetic testing[cites CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Ylan Q. MuiWashington PostDecember 30th, 2016Chinese investors — both private and government-supported — are backing American start-ups and funding promising new companies at home.
Will the Alt-Right Promote a New Kind of Racist Genetics?by Sarah ZhangThe AtlanticDecember 29th, 2016The genomic revolution has led to easy sequencing and cheap "ancestry" tests. White nationalists are paying attention.
Eugenics warningby Alexandra Minna SternIssues in Science and TechnologyDecember 20th, 2016The eugenic past can be a useful compass when considering present and future uses of genetic technologies.
Babies made from three people approved in UKby James GallagherBBC NewsDecember 15th, 2016Some scientists have questioned the technique, saying it could open the door to genetically-modified 'designer' babies.
Bioterrorism And Gene Editing: Can Crispr Tool Be Used As Biological Weapon In War?by Himanshu GoenkaIB TimesDecember 14th, 2016Given its broad distribution, low cost, and accelerated pace of development, deliberate or unintentional misuse of gene editing might have far-reaching economic and national security implications.
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