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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.

Race and ethnicity have no real biological meaningby Kevin LoriaTech InsiderNovember 20th, 2015Many scientists have criticized the idea of using genomic data to talk about ancestry. Genes can identify a person and find related people, but trying to fit groups of people into "races" was biologically inaccurate in the first place.
How Much Should a Woman Be Paid for Her Eggs?by Jacoba UristThe AtlanticNovember 4th, 2015Is the money a woman receives for her eggs payment for her services, her discomfort, or her biological property?
Making Indigenous Peoples Equal Partners in Gene Researchby Ed YongThe AtlanticOctober 23rd, 2015After leaving a partnership with NIH in 2003, the Akimel O’odham (Pima) tribe is retaining control of their bio samples and shaping the goals of a diabetes project with genomic researchers.
For Some Refugees, Safe Haven Now Depends on a DNA Testby Katie WorthPBS FrontlineOctober 19th, 2015The US is requiring refugees to prove they're related through a DNA test — often impossible to obtain in war-torn countries — causing worries about an unreasonably narrow genetic definition of family.
Video Review: Talking Biopolitics[cites CGS and CGS fellow Lisa Ikemoto]by Rebecca DimondBioNewsOctober 12th, 2015George Annas spoke with Lisa Ikemoto about his new book on genomic medicine and genetic testing.
What 2,500 Sequenced Genomes Say about Humanity’s Futureby Lizzie WadeWiredSeptember 30th, 2015Genomics has gone from being a "race-free" science to being a "race-positive" one.
Born that way? ‘Scientific’ racism is creeping back into our thinking. Here’s what to watch out for.by W. Carson Byrd & Matthew W. HugheyWashington PostSeptember 28th, 2015Recent studies show the media and white communities embracing the idea of racial genetic differences, twisting history and circumventing effective policy strategies.
Can 23andMe have it all?by Kelly ServickScienceSeptember 25th, 2015The company has made about 30 deals with biotech and pharma companies, and plans to hire 25 scientists in the next year to begin drug discovery efforts of its own.
Seeing Others: Is Racial Prejudice Innate or Learned?[Cites CGS's Osagie Obasogie]by Chelsea LeuCalifornia MagazineSeptember 24th, 2015UC Hastings professor and CGS Senior Fellow Osagie Obasogie explains that the way blind people understand race supports the idea that the perception of race is learned.
Prosecutor backs expanded DNA testingby Evan AllenBoston GlobeSeptember 17th, 2015A new Massachusetts bill would allow police officers to obtain genetic material at the point of felony arrest — creating what Justice Scalia calls the "genetic panopticon."
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