Op-Ed

Last spring World Watch interviewed South African writer Nadine Gordimer on her concerns about human genetic engineering.

World Watch: Last year, in Durban, you gave a speech at the U.N. conference on racism, and you suggested that human engineering could be the new face of racism. Could you elaborate?

Nadine Gordimer: There are precedents for breeding that is politically manipulated. You only have to think of the Nazi German ideal, the blond blue-eyed German. There’s a very big distinction between the sort of genetic engineering that could prevent certain diseases, and the possibility of breeding a different or separate race of people. There’s always a good that can come out of it, but how do you control the evil?

WW: In some of your writing, you have pointed to the possibility of a two-tiered health care system in which the rich or mostly light-skinned people have access to the new genetic medicine, while the poor, mostly dark-skinned people have not.

NG: Yes. I was thinking particularly of my own country [South Africa], and I was...