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Inequality and Human Genetics

[Letter to the editor]
by Richard HayesThe New York Times
September 16th, 2008

David Frum

David Frum correctly acknowledges that income inequality in the United States has been growing steadily and that the use of genetic technology by the affluent to enhance the "intelligence, health, beauty and strength" of their offspring would exacerbate this trend. But his suggestion that this challenge could be addressed by somehow ensuring that all have access to such technology is woefully misguided. The advent of these technologies would spark a techno-eugenic rat race impossible to constrain absent some system of authoritarian, allocative control. It would fundamentally change the way people regard their children and one another and undermine the integrity of the common human nature that sustains all human values, beliefs and institutions. The genetic modification of our children is a practice that conservatives and liberals alike should be able to agree poses far more risks than benefits, and should be taken off the table as an option.

Richard Hayes

Executive Director

Center for Genetics and Society

Oakland, Calif.



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