London, July 18 : A multidisciplinary group of geneticists, psychologists, historians, and philosophers at Stanford University in California have come up with "Ten Commandments" for the scientific community.
Reporting their guidelines in the journal Genome Biology, they insisted that people belonging to all races are equal, and that none of the studies had ever shown one group to be superior to another.
They said that equality was a moral value central to the idea of human rights, and that discrimination against any group should never be tolerated.
Another guideline said that people who shared the same culture, language or location tended to have different genetic variations than other groups, reports New Scientist magazine.
However, this is becoming less true, though, as populations mix.
The group also warned that scientists should not rely solely on genetic material to determine health disparities between individuals because they carry incomplete maps of ancestors' travels.
According to them, a person's cultural background should be taken into account for the purpose.
Their report also said that social definitions of what it meant to be "Hispanic" or "black" had changed over time, and that members of the same race might have different genetic histories.
The team further said that both nature and nurture play important parts in our behaviours and abilities, and that trying to use genetic differences between groups to show differences in intelligence, violent behaviours or the ability to throw a ball would be an oversimplification of much more complicated interactions between genetics and environment.
The experts urged researchers to be careful about using racial groups when designing experiments so as to avoid contributing to stereotypes.
They insisted that medicine should focus on the individual, not the race
According to them, interdisciplinary efforts that involve the social sciences are more likely to be successful because human disease is the product of a mishmash of factors-genetic, cultural, economic and behavioural.
They even urged policy makers should be careful about simplifying and politicising scientific data, and the media to address the limitations of race-related research.
The group said that students learning about genetics should also learn about misguided attempts in the past to use science to justify racism, and that new textbooks should be developed for the purpose.
The 'Ten Commandments' of race and genetics:
1. All races are created equal
2. An Argentinian and an Australian are more likely to have differences in their DNA than two Argentinians
3. A person's history isn't written only in his or her genes
4. Members of the same race may have different underlying genetics
5. Both nature and nurture play important parts in our behaviors and abilities
6. Researchers should be careful about using racial groups when designing experiments
7. Medicine should focus on the individual, not the race
8. The study of genetics requires cooperation between experts in many different fields
9. Oversimplified science feeds popular misconceptions
10. Genetics 101 should include a history of racism