Jonathan Kahn on Genetic Technologies and Their Impact on Society

Jonathan Kahn, author of Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age, is a frequent speaker at the Tarrytown meetings, an annual meeting of the Center for Genetics and Society in which scientists and others discuss the ways in which new human biotechnologies and related emerging technologies should support rather than undermine social justice, human rights, ecological integrity, democratic governance, and the common good.

In the following remarks from the 2010 meeting, Kahn discusses some of the troubling aspects our increasing faith in genetics as explanation for a variety of social and political problems in addition to scientific ones. He also expresses concern about how biotechnology is affecting academia by making the study of genetics and science research a cash cow for universities. Kahn’s talk, like his book, reveals the ways in which science is not necessarily a “value-neutral” pursuit but has many unanticipated consequences that need to be thought about carefully by society:

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