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Genetics of behavior assessed

UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics assesses the influence of genetics on patterns of behavior.

Pete Moore(pete.moore@dial.pipex.com)

LONDON — A report released on October 2 by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics assesses the influence of genetics on patterns of behavior. It calls for intelligent use and regulation of genetics.

The report focuses on behavior that lies within what is accepted to be a 'normal' range. It stresses that genes don't determine a person's character or behavior, but says there are data indicating that some of the variation between people may be influenced by their genetic heritage. For example, pooling a number of studies shows that genetics may influence more than 50% of the difference in people's intelligence, less than 50% of the differences in personality and a third of variation in antisocial behavior. There are, however, insufficient data to make any sensible assessment of the genetic influence over variations in sexual orientation.

The council made a number of recommendations. These include calling for a ban on the...

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