In the 1950s new microscope based techniques to visualize human chromosomes (the structures in the cell that carry genetic information), raised high hopes to distance the study of human heredity from discredited eugenic and racial practices and place it on a ‘solid scientific basis’. In the vision of its promoters the new approaches had implications for the study of an ever expanding number of genetic conditions, for the study of cancer, for the biology of sex determination, infertility and aging, for the study of human populations, in radiation studies and toxicology, in the courts and the policy arena.


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