We should use the emerging knowledge from genetics to have not just healthier children, but children with better genes. Unfortunately however, talking about better genes invites the objection, “That’s eugenics. That’s what the Nazis did.”

What are the specs on this model Darling? Picture: Thinkstock

Last century, the eugenics movement in Europe and the United States sought to use selective breeding to protect the gene pool by weeding out criminals, the insane and the poor, based on the false belief that such conditions were simple genetic disorders.

It reached its inglorious climax when the Nazis moved beyond sterilization to exterminate the “genetically unfit” – those with inferior genes.

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  • Nick says:

    07:40pm | 18/09/12

    Unfortunately my original comment appears not to have made it through - it was innocuous so I guess it was accidentally lost in the process.  It was too long to recreate but essentially pointed out using non-specialist language that a combination of penetrance, gene-gene and gene-environment interactions, and pleiotropy mean… Read more »

  • marley says:

    06:51pm | 18/09/12

    @Tubesteak - who said anything about forcing my views on others?  That’s a straw man argument if ever I heard one. Stating my opinions is hardly demanding that people fall into line with my thoughts on the matter.  If the population wants to go for designer babies, fine.  It happens… Read more »


Looks like men are going to be OK. Some panic merchants were putting it about that the Y chromosome would eventually just pack it in, leaving Earth to the females of the species – but new research has shored up the future of the males.

Even though the Y has shrunk from 1400 genes to just 45, it’s got a fairly solid base. And even if the little guy responsible for turning boys into men does shuffle off this DNA coil, apparently men can be men without all of the men bits. Fascinating!

But revisiting comments such as those from Oxford University genetics professor Bryan Sykes – who in 2003 declared men would likely be extinct within 125,000 and that one ‘radical’ solution would be to let them go – did make me prematurely nostalgic for the days of men.

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  • Kim says:

    07:45pm | 26/02/12

    Hon, you’re hanging around all the wrong girls if you don’t know ANY women who exhibit common sense or geniuineness. That really sucks. Read more »

  • Dr. Dep says:

    09:12am | 24/02/12

    I think everyone got a little caught up in the “he said, she said” of this argument. Let’s take a step back to some facts (my PhD is in Genetics and Microbiology so I’m feeling pretty confident in my statements here). 1. As far as we know, mitochondrial DNA is… Read more »


There are a few things I’d like to share. I’m at greater than normal risk of developing Crohn’s disease, Tourette syndrome and losing a testicle or two to cancer. On the bright side, the odds are I’ll never develop Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis. My IQ and episodic memory fall into the “typical” range (go to town with that one, Punchers).

Can we just snip out that f(*&*king Tourette Syndrome gene? Pic: Supplied

Although I’m of 99 per cent European extraction, my mother’s people are Haplogroup J, which arose in the Middle East 45,000 – 50,000 years ago. On my father’s side I’m Haplogroup R1b1b2a1a2f, which most likely formed in Turkey about 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age.

How do I know all this? Did I subject myself to an exhaustive battery of medical tests and spend millions of dollars tracing my genealogy back into the mists of time? Well, no. I spat into a vial, mailed it off, then logged on to a website a few weeks later to have the mysteries of my genetic code laid bare. 

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    06:31pm | 11/05/12

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Should we play God?  It’s time we dumped that question.  It only shows how deluded we are about where we’ve already got to.

Let there be life!

Playing God is taking over responsibility for the things that once could only be committed to prayer, ritual and trust in the Almighty – the things that couldn’t be controlled, including most things to do with the health of you and those you loved. 

You become responsible for what was just “in God’s hands”.  A hazard of life becomes a risk you accept.  Nowhere is this more obvious than in the matter of starting a family.

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  • SB says:

    12:55pm | 19/01/11

    So the world exists for you and how dare people have children because it means you have less resources. As a mother, you contributed to over population just as mouch as any other mother. Anyone who believes anything other than you must be stupid. What a naive comment. Read more »

  • Lisa H. says:

    06:08pm | 18/01/11

    Hasn’t the one child policy been relaxed over the past years? isn’t this partly because the gender imbalance was becoming obvious to the central planners? I cannot believe that the gender imbalance in China is simply a bizarre myth propagated by ‘anti-chinese’ forces. I can understand why a poor Chinese… Read more »


The old “I’m sorry… but I was really drunk” excuse has just been trumped. Researchers in the US have recently discovered there is, supposedly, a genetic condition which could explain why some people cheat on their partners.

I'm sorry honey, genetics made me do it. Picture: AFP

It’s the old Michael Douglas “I have a sex addition” baloney.

Give me a break. It seems that every time someone gets caught drink driving, cheating, being violent (or whatever) they trot out some medical or genetic condition to excuse their behaviour.

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  • reisen mittelmeer says:

    08:53am | 18/02/11

    Case Environment,drawing day stuff fix any since fit think reach production project safety package map job population attach reply gun round appear future language spirit major pick stand receive hotel function seriously kill thus secretary effect reference attractive relate finger relate appropriate appear scene fight word appeal remain output recommend… Read more »

  • D-Rex says:

    08:13am | 15/12/10

    Sorry Marley, “its all about choice"is a nice neat way to conduct your life but I have to go with Eric on this one.  Human activity is always based on logic / reason / rules, its just that we are not always conscious (or in control) of what that logic… Read more »


It is encouraging to see that a spirit of bipartisanship is being brought to the issue of patenting human genes.

Every cell of our body reveals our heritage down through the ages. Photo: AFP.

However, it will take more than a recent House of Representatives motion calling for an end to the patenting of isolated human DNA to achieve change.

Despite the US Federal Court finding patents for the BRCA1 and 2 genes invalid, the weight of precedent is against the finding being upheld.

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  • Jane says:

    07:22am | 18/11/10

    My big question is how can you truly patent the human genome when there is so much variation in it and its changing all the time? Or has someone decided that this particular sequence is pure human and the rest of us are just mutants? Read more »

  • sol says:

    10:39pm | 17/11/10

    (make that 3 problems ...) Read more »


Growing up we used to call it the “Cadbury” – just one glass and a half of an alcoholic beverage and you’d be gone, but now science has an explanation for why some people get drunk faster than others.

At least one of these people will find themselves funny after drinking this beer. Photo:AFP.

And just like good looks, great hair and natural sporting ability, it seems being good at drinking is something you’re born with.

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  • Reg says:

    06:10pm | 22/10/10

    This has been explained before but it’s only now they’ve homed in on the gene responsible. Certain cultures of old used salt for preservation. Others used alcohol for the same task. Those who were accustomed to using alcohol gradually acquired a genetic resistance that extended their threshold of intoxication. This… Read more »

  • Lucy Kippist

    Lucy Kippist says:

    02:18pm | 21/10/10

    Like Read more »


People always tell me that my hair isn’t red, it’s strawberry blonde. It’s as if they are paying me a compliment, like having red hair is something to be ashamed of. Well ladies and gentlemen, not today. Thanks to our new prime minister, being a redhead doesn’t just mean you have two copies of a recessive gene on chromosome 16, it means you are a winner.

Possibly the last time she was on the losing side? Julia Gillard in 1998

If you are one of the many people who followed the leadership challenge on Twitter, you would have noticed that references to Julia Gillard’s red hair were made almost as often as references to the fact that we have our first female prime minister. It’s clear that the red hair thing is an issue for us as a society.

Those of us blessed with a fiery red mop make up only 1-2% of the human population. As much as our struggle pales in comparison to that of racial minorities, homosexuals and many other oppressed groups, the fact is that we are a minority.

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  • Eve Castro says:

    03:21pm | 30/01/12

    I admire red heads. Well, I’m wearing black but I think red looks beautiful. I still don’t understand why most people think red head is a big No-No. Read more »

  • masealake says:

    03:55pm | 03/10/10

    What democratic societies should learn lessen from Australia election 2010: 1.  What productive action has PM Julia Gillard in office 100 days? Who behind of soaring rents ever stop that fuel city’s poverty for so many years? Found the answer yourself now? The Australia historical hung parliament demonstrated the big… Read more »


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