Originally aired on January 6, 2015
A San Francisco-based company, Cambrian Genomics, aims to make synthetic biology – the dangerous manufacture of synthetic DNA to create entirely new organisms – accessible to all, without government regulation.
Cambrian founder, Austen Heinz told the Wall Street Journal, “I can’t believe that after 10 or 20 years people will not design their children digitally,” though he insists this concept is not like eugenics, which sought to “improve” the human genetic pool through tactics such as forced sterilization and genocide. While Adolph Hitler was the most notorious eugenicist, there were others such as Henry Perkins in Vermont who tried to eliminate the Abenaki people and others whom he considered to be “low-grade” Vermonters.
In societies with ingrained inequalities, such as racism and sexism, however, the ability to create designer children would likely result in the homogenization of the human race, just as the globalization of Western culture and capitalism has replaced regional cultures with one overarching McCulture that dominates the world.
For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.