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Eugenics Conference

Genetic Crossroads
November 15th, 2006

Eugenics & Emerging Technologies: Bioethics in the Shadow of Auschwitz? brought key figures in law, bioethics, journalism, science, and social justice advocacy to the National Press Club in Washington, DC for a day-long conference on the prospects of a new eugenics based on emerging human biotechnologies. The November 10 event was hosted by the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future, an organization whose founders, fellows, and affiliated scholars span the left-right political spectrum.

The speakers provided a range of assessments of the issues surrounding the development, use, and regulation of human biotechnologies. The diversity of their professional backgrounds was exceeded only by the diversity of their political perspectives and normative commitments, giving the audience different entry points from which to think about biotech's relationship with law, society, and ethics.

While it was impossible to distill a consensus opinion from the panelists' talks, a common theme was clear: Regardless of whether you identify as left or right, religious or secular, or libertarian or conservative, the specter of a new high-tech eugenics should concern us all, and those most at risk of being harmed need protection. Just how to address this should be, perhaps, the focus of the next eugenics and biotech conference. But this was undoubtedly an important first step.

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