Tag: genetic diversity

Bioethics Blogs

Memo To White Nationalists From A Geneticist: Why White Purity Is A Terrible Idea

On
August 14th, UCLA researchers Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan presented
findings of their study,  “When Genetics Challenges a Racist’s Identity: Genetic
Ancestry Testing among White Nationalists,”
 at a sociology
conference in Montreal. They’d analyzed 3,070 comments organized into 70
threads publicly posted to the (sometimes difficult to access) “social movement
online community”  Stormfront.

Former
KKK Grand Wizard Don Black launched Stormfront on March 27, 1995. Posts exceed
12 million, ramping up since the 2016 election season. Panofsky and Donovan’s
report has a lot of sociology speak, such as “scholars of whiteness” and
“affiliative self-fashioning,” amid some quite alarming posts – yet also
reveals a sophisticated understanding of genetics from some contributors.

A
WHITE NATIONALIST ONLINE MEET-UP: STORMFRONT

“We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!”proclaims the
bold, blood-tinged-hued message on the opening page of Stormfront, the “community
of racial realists and idealists.”
 It’s a site for white nationalists,
who are a little less extreme than white supremacists, who want to dominate the
world from their pinnacle of a perceived racial hierarchy. The Stormfronters
seem more concerned with establishing their white purity – defined as “non-Jewish
people of wholly European descent.”

Yet
the lines between white nationalist and supremacist blur, as Stormfront states, “If Blacks or
Mexicans become a majority, then they will not be able to maintain the White
man’s social, cultural and economic systems because they do not have to (sic)
minds needed to do so.”

The
idea of white rights is rather new, catalyzed by the revolts of the truly
marginalized, murdered, abused, ignored, and enslaved.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Memo To White Nationalists From A Geneticist: Why White Purity Is A Terrible Idea

On
August 14th, UCLA researchers Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan presented
findings of their study,  “When Genetics Challenges a Racist’s Identity: Genetic
Ancestry Testing among White Nationalists,”
 at a sociology
conference in Montreal. They’d analyzed 3,070 comments organized into 70
threads publicly posted to the (sometimes difficult to access) “social movement
online community”  Stormfront.

Former
KKK Grand Wizard Don Black launched Stormfront on March 27, 1995. Posts exceed
12 million, ramping up since the 2016 election season. Panofsky and Donovan’s
report has a lot of sociology speak, such as “scholars of whiteness” and
“affiliative self-fashioning,” amid some quite alarming posts – yet also
reveals a sophisticated understanding of genetics from some contributors.

A
WHITE NATIONALIST ONLINE MEET-UP: STORMFRONT

“We are the voice of the new, embattled White minority!”proclaims the
bold, blood-tinged-hued message on the opening page of Stormfront, the “community
of racial realists and idealists.”
 It’s a site for white nationalists,
who are a little less extreme than white supremacists, who want to dominate the
world from their pinnacle of a perceived racial hierarchy. The Stormfronters
seem more concerned with establishing their white purity – defined as “non-Jewish
people of wholly European descent.”

Yet
the lines between white nationalist and supremacist blur, as Stormfront states, “If Blacks or
Mexicans become a majority, then they will not be able to maintain the White
man’s social, cultural and economic systems because they do not have to (sic)
minds needed to do so.”

The
idea of white rights is rather new, catalyzed by the revolts of the truly
marginalized, murdered, abused, ignored, and enslaved.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Goodbye Crop Diversity

Here’s a picture from National Geographic showing a stunning decline in the genetic diversity of crops: This is dangerous – diversity is key to avoiding crop failures from disease and pestilence.

The post Goodbye Crop Diversity appeared first on PeterUbel.com.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals December 2015 – Catching up by Melanie Boeckmann

Happy New Year to all Somatosphere readers! Hopefully you were able to take a break and came back refreshed and ready to tackle your reading list. Not sure where to start? Start here with the In the Journals December recap. Owing to its length, the round-up is divided into two separate posts. Find the second half here.

American Anthropologist

Sick Healers: Chronic Affliction and the Authority of Experience at an Ethiopian Hospital

Anita Hannig

At fistula hospitals in Ethiopia, patients who are not cured of their incontinence are hired as “nurse aides” to perform essential nursing duties in the ward and operating theater. An array of tensions surrounds the work of these women, tensions that are emblematic of their chronic—but secret—patient status. If accidentally disclosed, the women’s ongoing illness episodes sabotage their ability to administer treatment, such as injections. In contrast to classic anthropological accounts of wounded healers and therapeutic narratives about the virtues of experience-based care, I argue in this article that illness experience can also have a profoundly delegitimizing effect. Rather than attributing these dynamics to the alleged stigma that surrounds obstetric fistula sufferers, I delineate the various challenges to clinical authority that are epitomized by the figure of the sick healer. Nurse aides’ experiences with obstetric fistula proved to be a liability precisely because these experiences had not been resolved. Their chronic injuries raised questions both about their medical training and the efficacy of surgery. Attending to these Ethiopian health practitioners can hone our grasp of the professional dilemmas posed by chronic afflictions and contribute to our understanding of available ideologies at play in the global practice of biomedicine.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Living With Other Hominids

Written by Professor Neil Levy

The recent discovery of what is claimed to be a distinct species of the genus Homo, our genus, raises to three the number of species that may have co-existed with Homo Sapiens. Homo naledi is yet to be dated, but it may be only tens of thousands of years old; if so, it coexisted with modern humans. Homo floresiensis, the so-called ‘hobbit’, seems to have been extant well after sapiens evolved, and there is strong evidence that the Neanderthals coexisted with, probably interbred with, and may have been killed by, our ancestors.

If any of these species had survived into contemporary times, we would be faced with an ethical question which is novel: negotiating our stance toward a species that is not quite human, but too close to be regarded as simply animal (using that word in its common meaning, to refer to non-human animals). More specifically, we would face the problem of how to respond to another deeply cultural being. Naledi seems to have had a culture – so the researchers conclude from the placement of the bones, which they think indicates burial. Perhaps it was language using (floresiensis seems a very good candidate for language using). Yet they might not have been intellectual equals of modern humans (perhaps they were – genetic difference certainly doesn’t entail inferiority – but for the purposes of this post I will assume they weren’t). If they were our contemporaries, would we be obliged to allow them to vote? To have affirmative action for them in universities and in jobs (assuming that some of them, perhaps rare geniuses, could function at a high enough level to take advantage of these opportunities)?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

The bioethics of genetic diversity

The latest issue of the American Journal of Bioethics examines the topic of new reproductive technologies and genetic diversity. A series of articles discuss the ethical issues surrounding the protection of genetic variation in a population.

Monash bioethicist Robert Sparrow’s ‘Imposing Genetic Diversity’ – the target article for the discussion – considers the radical implications of arguments against the new eugenics that focus on the importance of diversity. 

Sparrow, though himself no friend of eugenic logic, questions whether arguments about the value of diversity could potentially have authoritarian implications. If we desire to conserve genetic variation and naturally occurring instances of disability in our world, then why shouldn’t we protect disability and – in extreme cases where disability begins to disappear – impose disability on populations.  

“Diversity clearly makes the world a more interesting place and the idea that we should conserve genetic diversity is therefore tempting. Yet when we imagine imposing genetic diversity to secure this same good, its value is revealed as elusive, especially if we concede that it must be achieved at the cost of the well-being of some individuals whose existence has been used to produce a benefit enjoyed mainly by others.”

In a response to Sparrow’s article, bioethicist and disabilities advocate Rosemarie Garland-Thompson argues that the very project of trying to design “the future people we want” (viz. the use of reproductive technologies to produce the best possible babies) is inherently problematic, as we do not have the power to predict all the contingencies of the future world. Hence we should neither impose disability nor attempt to eradicate it:

“All present actions shape the future, but we cannot predict or control all of the outcomes.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals, March 2015 – Part 2 by Anna Zogas

Here is a selection of journal articles published toward the end of March. Also check out this month’s first In the Journals post, and Science in Context’s special issue on mind and brain science in the twentieth century.

Disability Studies Quarterly (Open Access) 

Listen and Speak: Power-Knowledge-Truth and Cochlear Implants in Toronto
Tracey Edelist

Cochlear implants and auditory-verbal therapy are the latest techniques and technologies used to make deaf people learn to listen and speak. This paper provides a genealogical analysis of the Cochlear Implant Program at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and shows how this program exemplifies the medicalization of deafness while denying deaf children the opportunity to learn sign language. Using Foucault’s concept of governmentality, the relations between power, knowledge, truth and their influences on the program’s practices are revealed in order to provide insight into Canadian society’s conceptions of deafness. This analysis reveals the Cochlear Implant Program as a capitalist establishment that is supported by unquestioned reverence of modern medicine and technology, oriented by a quest for normalcy. The paper concludes by encouraging members of the Deaf community and their supporters to challenge the hegemony of normalcy by utilizing alternate research-based knowledge-truths of cochlear implants and sign language.

“Crying Doesn’t Work”: Emotion and Parental Involvement of Working Class Mothers Raising Children with Developmental Disabilities
Amy Christine Sousa

This article presents three critical case studies that explore the relationship between income and parental involvement in the education of children with developmental disabilities. Interviewed as part of a larger study on mothering children with developmental disabilities, Joy, Jackie, and Maya are low income mothers of children with severe developmental disabilities living in New Hampshire.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Altering Nature to Preserve It

Perhaps the biggest challenge in talking about something like de-extinction is simply being clear on what it is you’re really talking about. Emerging technologies can be surrounded with so much hoopla that one can lose sight of what the technologies actually accomplish.

Somebody recently expressed exactly this caution to me about de-extinction: “That is not even a thing yet,” she declared. It is just a vision so far, and we can’t yet talk about it seriously. Worse, by trying to talk about it seriously we suggest that it is indeed “a thing,” and we are off the rails right from the start. Just by talking about de-extinction, we may unintentionally give it a kind of support.

She had a point. On the other hand, once an emerging technology is well-developed to the point where it is “a thing,” then it may also be a fait accompli, and then we have probably waited too long to start talking about it. The trick is to try to have the conversations early, before the “thing” has fully taken shape, while remaining clear about the uncertainties surrounding its development.

What is the right way to talk about de-extinction? The Center for Humans and Nature, in partnership with The Hastings Center, has collected a series of essays and comments as part of an online series that poses the question, “How far should we go to bring back lost species?” To me, the essays and comments that have been collected here so far suggest three broad issues to bear in mind about de-extinction.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Can Genome Editing Cure AIDS?

Hinco Gierman

Yes. At least, in theory. But, theory might soon become practice according to this week’s issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine [1]. It published the first clinical trial of genome editing, in which the DNA of 12 human volunteers was “edited” to make them “genetically resistant” to the HIV virus.

What do I mean by genome editing and is it safe? How is this different from other gene therapies? Why would this cure AIDS? Is it unethical to genetically modify humans? And of course most importantly, should we be worried about “genetically modified super-humans” taking over the planet?

WHAT IS GENOME EDITING?

Genome editing means precisely changing a sequence of DNA in an exact location. In this study, the location was a gene called CCR5, which produces a protein that normally sticks to the outside of some of our immune cells (T cells). The HIV virus needs this protein to infect the T cells that it uses to multiply. The editing was deleting a piece of the CCR5 gene, which makes it inactive and leaves the HIV virus without a way to enter our cells. This deletion, called delta-32, naturally occurs in Northern Europeans [2,3]. Six years ago in Berlin, an HIV patient with leukemia received cells from a bone marrow donor that had the delta-32 mutation in both of the CCR5 gene copies (we inherit every gene from both our parents, so have two copies of each gene). The Berlin patient was cured from his leukemia, but also from his HIV infection, and to this day remains clear of HIV virus [4].

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.