Cardoso MCA, Castiel L. Saúde coletiva, nova genética e a eugenia de mercado. [ Collective health, the new genetics, and the eugenics of the marketplace .] Cadernos de Saúde Pública [Public Health Notebooks] (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) 2003 March-April; 19(2):653-662.

Objectives: To analyze the advances of genetic manipulation techniques in relation to the resurgence of a reductionist emphasis in collective health, centered in genetics above sociocultural influences.

Methodology:Analytic and interpretive.

Results: The mutable body, a hybrid, defined by DNA technology, modifies that body about which we are accustomed to think, a body socioculturally constructed, charged with sentiments, emotions, fears, and fantasies. This body now comes to be seen, through a sociological conceptualization, as a survival mechanism, and genes as the determinants of this process.

With the advance of molecular biological techniques in general and genetic manipulations in particular, knowledge in collective health has had to combat the rise of a possible reductionist, genomic approach. Under these circumstances, the principal focus of collective health interventions would return to a genomic orientation of “individuals” and their “families,” detrimental to its consecrated object, “populations.” This, in its turn, takes away the emphasis on public health interventions and resources, reducing illness as a function of socioeconomic inequalities. The article analyzes the ethical implications that the neoliberal conceptualization and the logic of globalized markets may impose on current developments in genetics.

Conclusions: The advances of genetics, holding indisputable importance in some aspects, may function as a dangerous weapon in the hands of private interests and may subordinate the vision of public health to an individualistic and genetic conceptualization.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico