Eugenics
Authors: Vivek Sharma, Santra Haritwal, Neelu Choudhary, Koushlya Choudhary
PhD Scholar Plant Breeding and Genetics
RARI Jaipur



History

  • Eugenics, as a modern concept, was originally developed by Francis Galton. It has roots in France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States in the 1860s-1870s. In 1883, one year after Darwin's death, Galton gave his research a name: "eugenics".
  • Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenicists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States. Later, in the 1920s and 30s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, and Sweden. Meanings
  • Francis Galton, the father of eugenics.
  • The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu ("good" or "well") and the suffix -genes ("born"), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word "stirpiculture", which he had used previously. Eugenics is study of "improving human genetic qualities".
Define

  • Galton defined eugenics as " The study of all agencies under human control which can improve the racial quality of future generations ".
Type

  • It is desirable to reduce the genetic load (negative eugenics) and to improve genetic makeup ( positive eugenics) of human populations.


POSITIVE EUGENICS

  • Measure aimed at improving the genotypic constitution of human populations so that individuals become better adopted and more fit than their predecessors, constitute Positive eugenics. This would involve marriages between possessing 'superior ' phenotype, and banning the reproduction by the rest of the population ( controlled mating and reproduction). The idea of controlled breeding was first suggested by Plato. The caste system in India seems to be based on similar considerations and marriages between of different castes are not looked upon favourably.
  • Another approach for eugenics is eutelegenics or germinal choice, which may be more acceptable than selective breeding. In this approach, semen samples from individuals of outstanding worth are stored in liquid nitrogen in sperm banks, and are is made available to women for conception through artificial insemination (AT­­). It is hoped that children produced through eutelegenics would be superior at least for a traits in which the selected sperm donor was outstanding. It may be quite effective for relatively simplely inherited traits, while it may have little or no effect on complex traits.
NEGETIVE EUGENICES

  • Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally "undesirable". These measures represent following two broad approaches:
  • Reducing the reproductive success of individuals carrying deleterious genes without adversely affecting the quality of their lives,
  • To correct the genetic defects of such individual through genetic surgery. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.
Implementation methods

  • There are three main ways by which the methods of eugenics can be applied.
    • Authoritarian eugenics, in which the government mandates a eugenics program.
    • Promotional voluntary eugenics, in which eugenics is voluntarily practiced and promoted to the general population, but not officially mandated.
    • Private eugenics, which is practiced voluntarily by individuals and groups, but not promoted to the general population.
Genetic Counselling

  • Genetic counselling consists of educating prospective parents either suffering from or suspected to be heterozygous, i.e., carriers, for some genetics disease on the risk of their children suffering from the some disease. It is hope that such parents would voluntarily abstain from producing children; this may be encouraged by creating a suitable social environment. Criticism
  • The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan, claimed that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was, to some extent, not completely scientifically accurate.
Diseases vs. traits

  • Objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences. On the other hand, genetic diseases like haemochromatosis can increase susceptibility to illness, cause physical deformities, and other dysfunctions, which provides some incentive for people to re-consider some elements of eugenics.
New eugenics

  • New eugenics suggestions for expanding eugenics programs, which range from the creation of sperm banks for the genetically superior to the potential cloning of human beings, have met with vigorous resistance from the public, which often views such programs as unwarranted interference with nature or as opportunities for abuse by authoritarian in regimes.
  • Applications of the Human Genome Project are often referred to as "Brave New World" genetics or the "new eugenics"


References:
• Principles of Genetics by B.D. Singh
• Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
• http://www.britannica.com/


About Author / Additional Info:
PhD Scholar Plant Breeding and Genetics