Genomic Enthusiasms, Biological Reality, and the Spectre of Eugenics: What Can We Learn From History?

Saturday, March 9th, 2002
Garland Allen
Event Description

With the recent announcement of the completion of the sequencing of the human genome (along with the genomes of the fruit fly, the roundworm C. elegans and yeast) we are standing at a critical threshold of the interface between science and society. What does this new information mean---what are the levels of interpretation to which it gives rise? Which interpretations will be heard and funded? Who will benefit from this new knowledge? Who might be hurt? We have stood at such thresholds before: perhaps most dramatically with the realization of the technical prowess of atomic energy at the middle of the last century. But every science, every technology, every period of history is different. So, how do we go about evaluating the potential for good or harm that may come from our newest technology: genomics?

Garland Allen

Evolutionary and Population Biology Program, Washington University