The GLP is committed to full transparency. Download and review our just-released 2019 Annual Report.

Emerging field of ‘social genomics’ comes with ethical, societal risks: ‘Who’s going to benefit?’

| | October 29, 2019

By looking at the genomes of people living in former coal-mining areas, [geneticist Abdel Abdellaoui] has found genetic signatures associated with spending fewer years at school compared with people outside those areas, and — at weaker significance levels — variants that correlate with lower socio-economic status.

The study — published [October 21] in Nature Human Behaviour — is a high-profile example of an emerging trend: using huge amounts of data and computing power to uncover genetic contributions to complex social traits. Studies published in the past decade have examined genetic variants linked to aggression, same-sex sexual behaviour, well-being and antisocial behaviours, as well as the tendency to drink and smoke. In doing such science, geneticists are heading for controversial territory.

Related article:  Challenging our understanding of the genetics behind the evolution of human language

Critics charge that the ethical and societal risks of acting on such information are too great. “One of the main concerns is not so much the study of genomics, but how are we going to use it,” says Maya Sabatello, a bioethicist at Columbia University in New York City. “Who’s going to benefit? Who’s not going to benefit? We live in a very unequal society and this is a major challenge.”

Read full, original post: The promise and peril of the new science of social genomics

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.

Send this to a friend