People have always sought to reduce suffering, eliminate disease or enhance desirable qualities in their children. But this goes hand-in-hand with the urge to impose control over who can procreate and ultimately who is permitted to live.
In the Victorian era, in the shadow of Darwin’s ideas about evolution, a new full-blooded attempt to impose control over unruly biology developed and was enshrined in a political movement that bastardised science: eugenics. It was a cornerstone of the policies of the Third Reich and led directly to the gates of Auschwitz. Adam Rutherford’s Control tells the story of attempts by the powerful throughout history to dictate and dominate reproduction and regulate the interface of breeding and society. He talks to geneticist Veronica van Heyningen.