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Misuse of Genetic Research

White supremacists are increasingly misconstruing genetic research to bolster their claims of superiority, a move that has many geneticists concerned, the New York Times reports

The University of Chicago's John Novembre tells the Times that he came across, and now includes in lectures, an image of white nationalists guzzling milk because lactase persistence is more common among people of European descent. The image, the Times adds, is linked to hate speech urging those who cannot drink milk to leave the US. This, it says, has concerned Novembre, who has urged other researchers to be careful in how they present their results to the public. Novembre also noted that lactase persistence also occurs among some East Africans.

This misuse of genetic research, the Times notes, is particularly an issue for geneticists who have been studying intelligence and other hot-button areas.

Some geneticists have pushed back by writing blog posts about how their work has been misconstrued, while others have responded to individual inquiries, though the Times says that many say they don't have the know-how to engage in such debates. It adds that while the on-going American Society of Human Genetics meeting declined to have a session about the problem, the ASHG president, David Nelson from the Baylor College of Medicine, says he plans to release a statement.

"There is no genetic evidence to support any racist ideology," he tells the Times.