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Bullet policy · Sep 28, 2020

American Society of Human Genetics Denounces Unethical Use of False Genetic "Theories"

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has issued a statement reinforcing facts about human genetics and expressing strong opposition to efforts that bend genetics knowledge for social or political ends.

The statement reads, in part: “Genetics demonstrates that humans cannot be divided into biologically distinct subcategories or races, and any efforts to claim the superiority of humans based on any genetic ancestry have no scientific evidence. Moreover, it is inaccurate to claim genetics as the determinative factor in human strengths or outcomes when education, environment, wealth, and health care access are often more potent factors. There is no factual basis for attempts to define communities or regions of people with “good” or “bad” genes and a century of science has debunked such claims, which can feed discredited views and racist ideologies. Unchecked, unethical application of false genetic “theories” have resulted in past atrocities from forced sterilizations to the Holocaust and can still fuel unethical social policies worldwide today. Over the decades, our field also has reflected on its own role in such now-condemned ideas, and we speak out vocally as a community and as individuals to combat their resurgence.”

ASHG urges advancing the ethical use of genetics and genomics knowledge for “the profound good it can realize, including better, more precise healthcare that leverages what we are discovering about human genetic commonality and diversity.”