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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.



Discrimination Based on Genetics Could Soon be Illegal, and it’s Right on Timeby William Wolfe-WylieCanada.comNovember 18th, 2014As personalized genetic testing hits the mainstream, what companies do with that information is of growing concern.
Indian Sterilisation Patient: ‘I was Slapped and Told to Calm Down’by Alok Putul and Anu AnandThe GuardianNovember 15th, 2014Woman recounts treatment at camp where 15 women have died after taking antibiotics possibly tainted by rat poison chemical.
Breaking from our Eugenic Pastby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesNovember 13th, 2014As the victims of North Carolina's eugenics program finally receive compensation, we should not celebrate "the new eugenics" as some have argued, but learn carefully from this history.
FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancementby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesNovember 12th, 2014The documentary produced and directed by Regan Brashear is receiving a new round of well-deserved positive attention around the world.
At Least 11 Women Die After Sterilization in Indiaby Katy DaigleAssociated PressNovember 11th, 2014A total of 83 women, all villagers under the age of 32, had the operations as part of India's free sterilization campaign. Dozens later became ill and were rushed to private hospitals.
Could Genomics Revive The Eugenics Movement?by Meredith SalisburyForbesNovember 8th, 2014There was a time when people in America were sterilized, sometimes unwittingly, by activists aiming to create a healthier, “better” population. As the progress of genomics accelerates, we need to remember the lessons of the past.
North Carolina Compensates Victims of Eugenic Sterilization[With CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Lily LouThe GuilfordianNovember 7th, 2014The drive behind these sterilizations was the eugenics movement: the pseudoscience of improving a society’s gene pool through reducing populations of people with negative traits.
‘Haunted Files': The Dark Side of Progressivismby Naomi Schaefer RileyNew York PostNovember 4th, 2014With funding from the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation, New York's Eugenics Records Office had the financial backing of the most important and “forward thinking” folks of the time.
Payments Start For N.C. Eugenics Victims, But Many Won't Qualifyby Eric MennelNPROctober 31st, 2014The new compensation law says, to be eligible, operations have to have occurred under the state's Eugenics Board. As it turns out, the board very likely wasn't aware of all the sterilizations taking place.
Why We Should Teach the History of Eugenicsby Jonathan ChernoguzBiopolitical TimesOctober 28th, 2014Two prominent universities have launched initiatives to focus on the history of eugenics.
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