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Questions for the Field

The alleged Buffalo supermarket shooter cited work by genetics researchers in a racist rant, raising questions about what genetic and genomics researchers can do to prevent their work from being co-opted by white supremacists, Stat News writes.

It adds that there are active discussions about what scientists can do to avoid having their research distorted toward racist ends. Some scientists argue that there should be more restrictions on who can access genomic databases and even perhaps limit that access to studies of medical importance, it says, noting that others say that would be censorship. At the same, Stat News adds there are calls for results to be more carefully presented and for researchers to think more deeply about what effect their work could have.

"Scientists have to recognize that their research can be weaponized. They need to think hard not only about how their findings might be misinterpreted or misused, but also about the point of even conducting the studies they do of differences among racial groups," Janet Stemwedel, philosophy professor at San José State University, writes in a separate editorial at Scientific American. "Above all that, scientists need to take an active role in fighting both violence and white supremacy."

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