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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.



Nepal Bans Surrogate Births — Worry for Gay Israelis by JTAThe ForwardAugust 27th, 2015Nepal’s Supreme Court issued an injunction to stop surrogate pregnancies — joining Thailand and India — blocking future foreign intended parents seeking surrogates.
The Colonial Origins of Conservation: The Disturbing History Behind US National Parksby Stephen CorryTruthoutAugust 25th, 2015Environmental conservation that excludes tribal peoples has deep connections with historical eugenics.
How Beliefs in Biological Differences Can Undergird Racial and Policy Attitudesby Carson ByrdUSAPPAugust 24th, 2015New study shows how racialized perceptions of the influence of genes and the environment on individuals can affect public support for policies aimed at mitigating racial inequality.
The Risks of Turning Races Into Genes by Matthew W. HugheyThe Huffington PostAugust 20th, 2015"Race" is man-made, and much of the scientific enterprise has traditionally supported the myth that racial differences accurately represent real, biological differences among humans.
One Penn State Professor Unmasks the Role Genetics Play in Human Faces
by Boen WangThe Daily CollegianAugust 7th, 2015Penn State scientist's attempts to map human faces from DNA samples provokes skepticism, and concern about consequences for DNA forensics and racial profiling.
Bioethical Silence & Black Livesby Derek AyehVoices in BioethicsAugust 3rd, 2015"While bioethicists have had no issue condemning genetic experimentation they seem to sew their mouths shut on the matter of black lives."
Stars, Bars, and Embryosby Emma ManiereBiopolitical TimesJuly 28th, 2015Controversies about the confederate flag and prenatal genetic testing are far more complex than "choice" and "intent" suggest.
Your 23andMe DNA Can Be Used In Racist, Discriminatory Waysby Stephanie M. LeeBuzzFeedJuly 22nd, 2015A programmer came up with an app that can block users from websites based on information drawn from their DNA about "sex, ancestry, disease susceptibility, and arbitrary characteristics."
US Tailored-Medicine Project Aims for Ethnic Balanceby Sara ReardonNature NewsJuly 21st, 2015The $215-million Precision Medicine Initiative is having trouble meeting an imminent deadline, in part because its priorities include filling racial and socio-economic gaps left by other long-term studies.
Ancient American Genome Rekindles Legal Rowby Ewen CallawayNature NewsJune 18th, 2015The finding seems likely to rekindle a legal dispute between Native American tribes and the researchers who want to keep studying the 8,500-year-old skeleton.
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