We Should Abandon “Race” as a Biological Category in Biomedical Research


In 2019, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists issued a statement on biological aspects of race, concluding that “pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past.” The statement continues: “… The only living species in the human family, Homo sapiens, has become a highly diversified global array of populations. The geographic pattern of genetic variation within this array is complex, and presents no major discontinuity. Humanity cannot be classified into discrete geographic categories with absolute boundaries… Partly as a result of gene flow, the hereditary characteristics of human populations are in a state of perpetual flux. Distinctive local populations are continually coming into and passing out of existence.” Certainly, groups of people living in separated geographic regions differ statistically in certain genetic traits, but these genetic differences are a property of local human populations and do not indicate “races.” Genetic ancestry is not the same as “race.”

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