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After Darwin cover image

After Darwin 2000

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Films for the Humanities and Sciences, PO Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 08543-2053; 800-257-5126
Produced by Galafilm Inc. and PTV Productions Inc.
Directed by Martin Lavut
VHS, color, 2 parts, 48 min. and 46 min.

High School - Adult
Genetics, Eugenics, and the Human Genome Science, Bioethics

Date Entered: 11/09/2018

Reviewed by Gloria Maxwell, Reference Librarian, Penn Valley Community College

Just as the 20th Century saw great innovations in computer technology, the 21st Century is expected to explode with advancements in biotechnology. The possibility of eradicating debilitating diseases or disabilities by gene alteration is potentially beneficial for mankind. The negative aspects of such interference, however, run the gamut from commercialization to discrimination. The history of genome research is traced through archival footage, period film clips, interviews with scientists, professors, researchers, and individuals affected by various genetic conditions. The darker side of biological research is also examined, from Hitler's medical experiments in World War II to China's rigid program for restricting married couples to one child and the societal expectations and mores used to mold its citizens into conforming with this mandate. Other topics featured include cloning, fertility clinics, genetic testing, gene patenting, and the Human Genome Project.

Dr. Leroy Hood and Nobel Laureate Dr. James Watson, along with other experts, analyze many of the moral and ethical issues surrounding biotechnology. Eugenics can be beneficial for humankind when used in the right way--such as to fix bad genes, overcome fertility problems, correct genetic defects in vitro, and to produce tissue and eggs for human use without subjecting people to tests and experimentation. The downside is that commercialization and privatization will intrude, bringing a host of discriminatory practices with them. Disabilities and diseases will be redefined; techniques can be patented and sold to the highest bidder. The experts see the immediate future of eugenics as one in which discrimination will be evident in the workplace and among insurance company practices, and apparent in the types of children parents select to produce. In the future, the benefits of eugenic research will be more obvious; treatments will improve, gene markers for such conditions as breast cancer, diabetes, and heart defects will be identified. What will people really do with such information--will they choose to abort imperfect fetuses? This raises many ethical considerations. As one scientist points out, "you never turn science back." So, we will continue to explore eugenics despite the potential for abuse or harm. Human genetic engineering will happen whether we want it to or not. We simply have to learn how to handle the moral challenges that will present themselves.

After Darwin is a provocative, concise distillation of eugenics and the problems and potential benefits inherent from such research. Highly recommended for college and university libraries collections.