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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.

Social science: Include social equity in California Biohubby Science FARE (Feminist Anti-Racist Equity) Collective: Jessica Cussins, Kate Weatherford Darling, Ugo Edu, Laura Mamo, Jenny Reardon & Charis ThompsonNatureOctober 19th, 20165–7% of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative's Biohub health-research budget should be used to design and monitor goals of justice and equality from the outset, or social inequalities could limit the project's potential.
DNA database could help predict your disease — then get you firedby David LazarusLos Angeles TimesOctober 14th, 2016The "Precision Medicine" project of introducing big data into healthcare comes with a host of risks for individuals and communities, including privacy and genetic discrimination.
CRISPR deployed to combat sickle-cell anaemiaby Heidi LedfordNature NewsOctober 12th, 2016Gene therapy aimed at a single-cell genetic condition shows some success in mice, while highlighting unknowns of human gene editing.
Designer and Discarded Genomesby Ruha Benjamine-flux ArchitectureOctober 12th, 2016Field notes from a Harvard meeting on a "synthetic human genome" moonshot reveal the anti-democratic foundations of HGP-Write.
White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whitenessby Elspeth ReeveVICE NewsOctober 9th, 2016The pseudo-science of "biological race" is perpetuated by white nationalist online communities with "ancestral evidence" provided by 23andMe.
Collaborative Science on Historically Burdened Concepts: Intelligence, Genetics, Race & Socio-economic Statusby Daphne Martschenko, Biopolitical Times guest contributorOctober 6th, 2016Confusion and discomfort often accompany discussions of concepts with burdened histories. In both the social and biological sciences, we can and must do better to learn and collaborate together.
Doctors Dig for More Data About Patientsby Melanie EvansWall Street JournalSeptember 25th, 2016In the name of improving treatment, some hospitals are buying their patients' consumer and financial data from third-party brokers.
White House science advisers urge Justice Dept., judges to raise forensic standardsby Spencer S. HsuWashington PostSeptember 20th, 2016A new report cautions that widely used methods to trace complex DNA samples to criminal defendants fall short of scientific standards.
Why we need a law to prevent genetic discriminationby Yvonne Bombard, Ronald Cohn & Stephen SchererThe Globe and Mail [Canada]September 19th, 2016After unanimous passage through Canada's Senate, a bill on genetic discrimination is now before the House of Commons.
Peru Fails to Deliver for Indigenous Womenby Shena CavalloopenDemocracySeptember 12th, 2016Some 300,000 poor rural indigenous people were forcibly sterilized according to state "quotas," but a public prosecutor has decided not to pursue charges of "crimes against humanity."
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