Human Genetics, Environment, and Communities of Color: Ethical and Social
Julie Sze and Swati Prakash
Office of the President, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA; West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT), New York, New York, USA
A conference titled “Human Genetics, Environment, and Communities of Color: Ethical and Social Implications” and a workshop symposium titled “Human Genetics and Environmental Justice” were held by West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc., with co-sponsorship by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the Community Outreach and Education Program of the NIEHS P30 Center for Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The conference and symposium took place at Columbia University in New York City on 4–5 February 2002. Expert panels composed of public health practitioners, genetic researchers, ethicists, lawyers, social scientists, and community organizations were assembled to explore how genetic research will affect communities of color, specifically in environmental health research. The goal of the conference was to educate participants on the science and ethics of genetic research and to explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of genetic research vis-à-vis new trends in environmental health research, specifically with reference to communities of color. The goal of the symposium was to discuss the major perceptions and concerns for community-based environmental justice advocates and other communities of color regarding environmental health genetic research. The conference and symposium drew more than 300 participants and articulated important perspectives on the opportunities and challenges for environmental justice advocates and other communities of color posed by rapid advances in environmental health genetic research and toxicogenomics.