“Bend it like Beckham”: the ethics of genetically testing children for athletic potential.

The next Culpeper Seminar Series is next Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm at Laurel Heights in Conference Room 474.

Silvia Camporesi, PhD, Centre for the Humanities & Health, King’s College London, will present a paper titled: “Bend it like Beckham: the ethics of genetically testing children for athletic potential”.

Silvia has a background in Medical Biotechnology and PhD in ‘Foundations and Ethics of Life Sciences‘ awarded from the University of Milan in collaboration with the European School of Molecular Medicine. The ways in which parents resort to genetic techniques to choose ways of life and identity have been one of her research interests for the last few years (see for example her paper “Choosing Deafness with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: An Ethical Way to Carry on a Cultural Bloodline?” Cambrige Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 19(1):86-96).

Photo by Kevin Moloney for the NYTimes

Photo by Kevin Moloney for the NYTimes

In this new paper Silvia combines this interest with her more recent interest in ethics of sport and considers the ethical feasibility of the use of genetic tests, sometimes coupled with more traditional methods of ‘talent scouting’, to assess a child’s predisposition to athletic performance. The recent boom of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests (especially but not only in the US) aimed at measuring children’s athletic potential, and the parental decision in terms of education and investing in the children’s future taken on the basis of the results of those tests, is the starting point for her analysis on the role of parenthood in education, the autonomy of children, and the meaning and role of sports in childhood.

December 5th, 2012 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm at Laurel Heights in Conference Room 474. All welcome to attend.

You can also read:

Macur J. (2008) Born to Run? Little Ones Get Test for Sports Gene. The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/sports/30genetics.html
R. Stein (2011), Genetic testing for sports generates controversy, Genetic testing for sports genes courts controversy, Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/genetic-testing-for-sports-genes-courts-controversy/2011/05/09/AFkTuV6G_story.html
R. Collier (2012) Genetic tests for athletic ability: Science or snake oil? Canadian Medical Association Journal 184(1) http://www.cmaj.ca/content/184/1/E43

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Last modified: December 1, 2012