- A survey of Chinese scientists working
in the field of genetics suggests they overwhelmingly support eugenics
to improve public health.
- The theory of eugenics - which is considered
highly controversial in the West - suggests that the human race can be
improved by selective breeding.
- The survey, which was conducted in 1993
among 255 geneticists throughout China, was reported in the British magazine
- Genetic testings
- Almost unanimously - by 91% - the scientists
said that couples who carried the same disease-causing genetic mutation
should not be allowed to have children.
- More than three-quarters believed that
governments should require pre-marital tests to detect carriers of hereditary
- They also supported the routine genetic
testing of job applicants by employers.
- There was also strong backing for the
genetic testing of children to see if they are susceptible to problems
such as alcoholism.
- 'Cultural differences'
- The survey was carried out by Xin Mao,
a scientist from West China University of Medical Sciences in Chengdu.
- Xin Mao, who now works at the Institute
of Cancer Research in Sutton, in south-west London, defended Chinese attitudes,
saying cultural differences should be taken into account.
- "The Chinese culture is quite different,
and things are focused on the good of society, not the good of the individual.
It would shock people in the West, but my survey reflects cultural common
sense," the researcher said.
- The scientists' attitudes were reflected
in action later taken by the Chinese authorities.
- The year after the survey was held, China
introduced the controversial Maternal and Infant Health Care Law, which
makes pre-marital check-ups compulsory and allows doctors to order abortions
of foetuses with serious defects.