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Lessons from history

Studies of human genetics have been tragically misused in the past. Followers of the eugenics movement, at its height in the early part of the twentieth century, believed that some people were genetically superior to others. They wanted to prevent people regarded as 'genetically inferior' from having children. As a result, many in the USA and other countries were forcibly sterilised, a practice that only stopped in the 1960s. Eugenic policies were also responsible for the Nazi atrocities committed during the Second World War.

A nineteenth-century lunatic asylum.
A nineteenth-century lunatic asylum.
Science & Society Picture Library

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