Eugenics: myth and reality

Ellie Lee debated the topic ‘Eugenics: myth and reality’ at The Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican in October.
We now have more understanding of our genes than ever before and the capacity to alter them in order to resolve congenital medical conditions. Other techniques that change our germlines – our heritable characteristics – are also on their way, such as the CRISPR/Cas9 technique recently used by Chinese scientists to ‘edit’ the genes of a human embryo. But such developments often inspire resistance and are described as ‘eugenic’. But do today’s breakthroughs really resemble past horrors or are these simply invoked by those who fear gene manipulation today? This debate filmed at the Battle of Ideas clarifies much, not least the history of eugenics which bears little resemblance to the breakthroughs worth embracing now. The speakers were: Dr Chris Gyngell, Dr Lesley Hall, Dr Ellie Lee, Güneş Taylor and the chair was Sandy Starr communications officer, Progress Educational Trust.’
The proceedings can be viewed at