Monday, February 22, 2016

“There is only one race: The human race.”

 Science Magazine recently published a long overdue article regarding the role of race in genetics. Or rather, the lack of the role, as it is entitled Taking Race out of Genetics. 

They present the categorization of around 7.5 Billion people with 3 billion base pairs in the human genome, into fields such as “caucasian”, “mongolian” “negroid”, or “australoid”.

However, Science Magazine takes a strong stance that these variables have no place in genetic study. The first reason pertains to a priority of genetic studies; health care diagnosis and illness prediction. For example, diseases such as sickle-cell anemia is associated with the black “race”. Yet it is still present in those in other races. Also Cystic fibrosis is more commonly associated as a “white” disease. These associations based on arbitrary grouping undoubtedly leads to misdiagnosis and intentional miss-testing.

Secondly, this grouping is impossible. Race is not a discrete variable. In any other facet of experimentation, one would not categorize something as a singular entity when it is not. Also, all origins all trace back to the same ancestor.

Thirdly, the categorization of race in genetics has a history of linking races as inferior or superior without genetic correlation. "When scientists use race as if it were a biological category in research, it sends a message to the public that we're talking about innate differences and that these differences in health are caused by genetic differences," said Roberts. "But the inequalities in health that we see are caused by social inequalities that we do need to address, but not by fixing people's genes, but by addressing the social inequality that produces them."

Thus this breakdown is not beneficial in the study of genes. However, it is not discredited from all scope of research. Cultural studies and one’s historical background is extremely merited to many individual’s needs and studies. If it is centered into a more applicable field, such as social sciences, perhaps another variable will arise in genetic studies to catalyst advances.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is important that genetics puts less emphasize on race. Like you mentioned in your post, associating certain diseases with a specific race may cause misdiagnosis. Recognizing that all races are the same and that one is not better than the other will be an improvement to genetic studies.