Designer Babies and Gene Robbery

Designer Babies and Gene Robbery

DVD2006 60 Minutes

Concerns about genetic research. Is it becoming dangerously commercial? How far does our knowledge go?

A balanced look at the degree to which science can alter our genetic makeup. There is a danger that simplistic thinking could assume that there is a gene for something like homosexuality, whereas science is nowhere near this position. On the other hand to deny research on human embryos may prevent the discovery of a cure for some life-threatening illness. Some of the painstaking research is shown and explained, and fears are expressed about the commercialisation of genetic research. This new commercial eugenics hides behind the veneer of good science, which makes it much more dangerous.

And then there was gene therapy and there were thousands of serious adverse reactions. . Aside from the health dangers of tampering with our basic genetic make-up, there’s growing concern about the ethical implications. Scientist Craig Venter worked on the Human Genome Project for years before forming his own company, Celera Genomics, and using his publicly funded research to patent thousands of human genes. His company now has the exclusive right to manipulate these genes. Genetics will be the major driving force on the economy of the whole world, he predicts.

Suddenly, the primarily motive in genetic research was no longer scientific progress but rather to make enormous profits. Ventures like the so-called Vampire Project have only confirmed peoples worst fears. Under the pretext of public health screenings, scientists took blood samples from 700 indigenous groups. But these samples ended up in private laboratories where the genes were then patented.

It’s a form of colonialism, complains Vicky Tauli Corpuz, spokesperson of the Indigenous Women’s Network. They are trying to steal the genetic material in our bodies and use it for commercial purposes, without our permission or knowledge. No one is suggesting that scientists should stop working on genetic research. But shouldn’t there at least be a proper, public debate about its potential implications?

On Vimeo for £3.00.