The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
I just attended a debate in New York a few weeks ago about whether or not we should outlaw genetic engineering in babies and the audience was pretty split. In China, 95 percent of an audience would say, “Obviously you should make babies genetically healthier, happier, and brighter!”
The Bronx Zoo is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which boasts of running more than 500 projects in sixty-five countries through global field offices whose employees work to advance sustainable development; address issues of global climate change, health and well-being, and natural-resource use; and pursue other noble-sounding objectives that attest to the totality of man’s dominion over the lesser beasts. [more inside]
The year 2100 will see eugenics universally established. In past ages, the law governing the survival of the fittest roughly weeded out the less desirable strains. Then man’s new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. ~Nikola Tesla, Liberty Magazine, February 9, 1935
“My husband and I stared at our daughter for that first year. She was worth every cent. Better than a new car, or a kitchen reno.”
How to Buy a Daughter: Choosing the sex of your baby has become a multimillion dollar industry "Gender selection now rakes in revenues of at least $100 million every year. The average cost of a gender selection procedure at high-profile clinics is about $18,000, and an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 procedures are performed every year. Fertility doctors foresee an explosion in sex-selection procedures on the horizon, as couples become accustomed to the idea that they can pay to beget children of the gender they prefer... Much of the evidence that Americans preferentially choose girls is anecdotal, as no larger body tracks gender selection procedures. But data from Google show that “how to have a girl” is searched three times as often in the United States as “how to have a boy.” Many fertility doctors say that girls are the goal for 80 percent of gender selection patients. A study published in 2009 by the online journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online found Caucasian-Americans preferentially select females through PGD 70 percent of the time. Those of Indian or Chinese descent largely chose boys."
From the Northwestern University press release: A new paper just published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry uses extensive Freedom of Information Act findings to detail an extremely troubling off-label medical intervention employed in the U.S. on pregnant women to intentionally engineer the development of their fetuses for sex normalization purposes. [more inside]
galton.org is an exhaustive website devoted to the life and works of the statistical pioneer and "father of eugenics" Francis Galton, inventor of the scatterplot, the correlation coefficient, fingerprint identification, and who knows what else. Almost all of Galton's books and papers are reproduced here, some in scanned form and some in searchable .pdf, from his major books to his letters to Pigeon Fancier's Journal. A short selection after the fold. [more inside]
"One of the deep, dark secrets of America's past has finally come to light. Starting in the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of American children were warehoused in institutions by state governments." An early part of the American experiment with Eugenics, the Walter E. Fernald State School inspired scores of similar institutions across the country, and more recently, one of the definitive histories of the era. [more inside]
A relatively new twist in the sad saga of Little Albert is challenging the traditional understanding of the already troublingly unethical classical experiment. [more inside]
A Terrible Legacy More than 60,000 Americans were sterilised, many against their will, as part of a eugenics movement that finished in 1979, aimed at keeping the poor and mentally ill from having children. Now, decades on, one state is considering compensation.
In the US, the conservative movement’s latest rallying cry against abortion claims pro-choice groups are conducting a systematic eugenics campaign to turn African Americans into an "endangered species." The idea is finding renewed traction and condemnation in Black communities. Several bloggers at RHRealityCheck are offering counter-arguments. [more inside]
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way." Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s 8th Ward in Louisiana, has denied a marriage license to an interracial couple, using Tragic Mulatto reasoning. He claims that children of interracial marriages suffer needlessly, and the couple's union won't last. Previously on MeFi: The Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage
Former child actor Kirk Cameron and his friend Ray (The Banana Guy) Comfort [previously] seek to distribute the "correct" (aka altered) version of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species to 50,000 students at the nation's top 50 universities as the book is soon to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Their version includes a 50-page introduction which "...gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin's life, Adolph Hitler's undeniable connection with the theory, Darwin's racism, his disdain for women, and Darwin's thoughts on the existence of God..." Cameron's promotional video for the project: 'Origin Into Schools.' A video response: "Origin of Stupidity." [more inside]
A 28-acre plot of unspoiled Sierra foothill forest is bequeathed to the Auburn (CA) Recreation District. The bequeath came with one condition: That the park be named "Nobel Laureate William B. Shockley And His Wife Emmy L. Shockley Memorial Park." [more inside]
The first ever, it is believed, has been produced at Cornell University. The feat was apparently much overlooked, and has many concerned over the lack of public debate of this field of research. Genetically modified human embryos.
Divorce Hearing was a television program where couples aired their grievances to Dr. Paul Popenoe, who would attempt to help them figure out how to make things work. Popenoe is notable for few things: he wasn't a real doctor - his highest academic achievement was receving an honorary degree from Occidental College; he founded the first "marriage clinic" in the US in Los Angeles in 1930 and created and authored the long-running "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" column for Ladies Home Journal. Oh yeah, he was a eugenics proponent, too. (Discovered via.)
“Allowing parents to select their children’s sexual orientation would further a parent’s freedom to raise the sort of children they want to raise.”
Cure for teh gay? I was relaxing in front of X-Men 3 when a friend mentioned that the United States "gay sheep" experiments were wrapping up (though not uneventfully), with considerable successes. Lesbian tennis champ Martina Navaratilova has been fighting to end the tests for some time, but it appears a "gay vaccine" for pregnant mothers may be inevitable. Meanwhile, the GOP's only gay congressman retires.
$20,000 and you can choose the gender of your next kid. You'd think you'd have to go to the Caribbean or someplace to do it but the practice of gender selective preimplantation genetic diagnosis is alive and well in the United States. (Note how the medical link DOES NOT have an indication for using the procedure for gender selection). Some have already been concerned about a slippery slope. And, it seems regulatory agencies would rather not say anything about the issue so as to let the technology improve and see what we can and can't select in our embryos. Could this be the next big issue in the culture v. science v. religion wars?
Engineering Perfect Americans Were your immigrant ancestors considered genetically predisposed to become criminals? Were your mixed-ethnic ancestors thought to be polluting the nation's 'germ-plasm'? The Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement presents a well-put-together online exhibit/walkthrough of this disturbing vein in American history.
Hitler's "fountain of life." In 1935, Heinrich Himmer and the SS launched a network of Lebensborn maternity centers to increase birthrates among Aryans, where German soldiers were encouraged to mate with genetically desirable local women in occupied countries like Norway. These women were given the option of raising their kids themselves or turning them over to SS-run homes where they would be "Germanized." The lives of these kids was hell after the war, when they were shunned and worse by the Nazis' previous victims. To those who are nostalgic for the Reich, like this veritable eBay of Nazi memorabilia, the Lebensborn program represented " wonderful social experimentation."
The connections between post-war urban reconstruction, demographics, social engineering, and eugenics are explored in this treasure trove of links, from things magazine.
Re-emergent American Eugenics Movement looks to unfinished business - The Tennessee primary win of an avowed Eugenicist Republican Congressional candidate underscores the longstanding association of the Republican Party with a resurgent American Eugenics Movement deeply linked to Nazi racial ideology and championed by the Manhattan Institute and the Nazi-associated Pioneer Fund
"We are becoming the masters of our own DNA. But does that give us the right to decide that my children should never have been born?" John Sundman is a science fiction novelist and the father of two children with severe medical conditions. In this two-part article he shares his experiences and thoughts on bioethics, the Human Genome Project and whether genetics research is paving the way for a resurgent eugenics movement.
Stupidity should be cured, says DNA discoverer. "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great."
Against Their Will: Forced Sterilization of the "Feeble-Minded." Rich, beautifully designed site from the Winston-Salem Journal about forced sterilization in North Carolina, which continued far later than most other states due to the influence of a small group of elitist businessmen and the complicity of newspapers, politicians and doctors. Heart-wrenching Flash interviews, an interactive timeline and original documents like poems, pamphlets and charts provide hours of fascinating reading. The state has been refusing access to these records for decades.
Cruel and unusual punishment from the state that raised me. It reminds me of eugenics. I definitely don't condone rape, but this just seems wrong.
State of Virginia apologises for eugenics policy. I'm not American, so perhaps it's understandable that I'd never heard of the scale of such policies, but I'm pretty well-informed, and I'm astonished that it isn't better known-of. I guess I'm mostly posting because I'd be interested in learning how well-known and understood the issue is in the US. There's also an image archive on the subject here.
Dutch Legalize Euthanasia "The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to legalise mercy killing after a controversial law on euthanasia came into force on Monday." While tolerated for nearly two decades, opponents are comparing the practice to Nazi Geramny. Is this a step forward for those living with severe pain and no hope in sight?
Our future lies . . . with eugenics??? "The useful and intelligent classes should be allowed, indeed encouraged, to breed, and the murderous morons, who are never going to contribute anything except misery to themselves and others should be discouraged. No one need be killed." If this wasn't published in the London Telegraph, I'd think it was from the lunatic fringe. Is A. N. Wilson attempting satire or auditioning for the lead in Springtime for Hitler?
Virginia regrets.... Lots of boys were named Eugene in honor of eugenics movement, likened here to what the Nazis were also doing
http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,372067,00.html Thousands of South American indians were infected with measles, killing hundreds, in order to for US scientists to study the effects on primitive societies of natural selection.
Cash for birth control - if you're a junkie. Came across an ad for this organization while riding a train that serves a number of low income Chicago projects. I'm hard pressed to figure out what this is about. On first glance, it seems to be an effort to help drug addicted mothers avoid unwanted pregnancies. However, upon further reflection, it takes on the guise of a frightening genetic engineering program.