Sunday, May 20, 2007

Breed vs Race

Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active.

Veterinarians are beginning to do DNA testing in "mutts" to determine the breeds that formed there unique makeup. This is done to aid in treatment of the dog as some diseases are seen more commonly & /or not at all in some breeds.

This got me to wondering why humans are not labeled in terms of breeds like other mammals. The different breeds of dogs may include doberman, german shepard, poodle. Horses may be pintos, mustangs, Arabian, etc. Cats may be Persians, calicos, etc. So why aren’t we labeled that way? My breeds would be Anglo-Saxon with some American Indian (if family history is correct). Tiger Woods would be from the breeds: "Woods once told Oprah Winfrey that as a child he had decided he was "Cablinasian" -- a mixture of Caucasian, black, American Indian and Asian. His mother Kutilda is from Thailand, his father is an American of multiple ethnic backgrounds."

Just like our fellow mammals, some diseases are more prevalent in some of us than others. We know for example that sickle cell anemia is not typically seen in Anglo-Saxons but is common in Africa, South or Central America (especially Panama), Caribbean islands, Mediterranean countries (such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy), India, and Saudi Arabia. In regards to the disease cystic fibrosis, if your family background is not white, your chance of being a carrier is less than 1 in 30. For example, some Asian-American groups have carrier rates of 1 in 90.

Would it be better labeling ourselves as different "breeds" of humans than races? Would it take the political/historical bias out of the label? Could we then talk more freely about the connection and treatment of diseases associated with certain "breeds" without fear that we would offend someone?

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