A landmark conference held at Sacramento State University, From Eugenics to Designer Babies: Engineering the California Dream, focused on California's eugenic past and the prospect of a market-driven eugenic future.
The October 21 event explored California's role as a center of twentieth-century eugenic sterilization and ideology, and as a key player in current developments in human biotechnology. "At the dawn of the twenty-first century," the conference website says, "California has again taken the lead in marshalling public resources to explore the curative possibilities of genetic manipulation."
Keynote speaker Alexandra Minna Stern, a University of Michigan historian and author of Eugenic Nation:Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (2005), argued that one key reason an extensive eugenics movement took hold in California was that officials responsible for the state's sterilization policies were specifically exempted from key oversight and regulations. CGS Associate Director Marcy Darnovsky noted that exemptions from regulatory oversight are also a feature of California's stem cell program, and that some stem cell techniques that may contribute to treatments or therapies can also be misused for eugenic applications.
An evening session that considered the legacy of Charles Goethe, a prominent eugenicist and major benefactor of Sacramento State University, was led by Tony Platt, professor emeritus of social work at the university and author of the forthcoming Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler's Nuremberg Laws, from Patton's Trophy to Public Memorial .
Speaker presentations will be posted soon on the symposium website.
"Echoes of eugenics movement in stem cell debate," San Francisco Chronicle (October 24)
"Congratulations, it's a Viking! Eugenics past and future," Sacramento News and Review (September 29)