Genetic Testing's Political Implications Must Be Addressed

The recent public apology by President Clinton on behalf of the United States government to survivors of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments was intended to close the door on one of the most scandalous instances of officially sanctioned scientific misconduct in the annals of biomedical research. Yet, while the apology may bring closure to the particular incident, it stands as a stark reminder of the history that has led many minorities to distrust supposedly objective scientific research. Betraye

Dan Burk
Jul 20, 1997

The recent public apology by President Clinton on behalf of the United States government to survivors of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments was intended to close the door on one of the most scandalous instances of officially sanctioned scientific misconduct in the annals of biomedical research. Yet, while the apology may bring closure to the particular incident, it stands as a stark reminder of the history that has led many minorities to distrust supposedly objective scientific research. Betrayed both by the research establishment and by the government, minority communities are left to wonder if the Tuskegee experiment is not simply an extreme and visible example of an ongoing betrayal for which there will be no apology.

opinion cartoon This problem is especially acute owing to the likelihood of increased biomedical testing arising from the Human Genome Project sequencing and mapping initiative. Communities of color have not forgotten the debacle of sickle-cell testing programs...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?