The prodigious scientific leaps made in the fight against genetic disorders and the ethical issues surrounding them are examined in editor turned first time feature director Adam Bolt’s fascinating documentary, Human Nature, which should serve nicely as a major medical conversation starter.
Many genetic diseases that plague humankind to this day are often the cause of a single, infinitesimal mutation in a person’s DNA, making them previously impossible to treat. Recently, thanks to the discovery of repetitive sequences in DNA known as CRISPR (which was discovered by a yogurt manufacturer who wanted to keep their cultures from dying), scientists are getting closer to curing, treating, and eradicating some diseases and disorders through remarkably low cost methods. There are some downsides to this genetic revolution, however. Since it’s relatively new and easy to come by technology, pretty much anyone can get their hands on whatever they need and perform genetic repairs on themselves. The science is also dangerously close to bringing us into an era that could give people “designer babies” with all of the positive traits someone wants in a child, with none of the negative ones, a prospect that haunts the nightmares of some of the researcher Bolt interviews along the way.
Human Nature has a lot of science to get out of the way off the top. The first thirty minutes of Human Nature are comprised almost exclusively of technical details that are sometimes hard to keep up with. Stick with it, though. You’ll need to know all of that for the remainder of the film, where Bolt and various scientists and interview subjects walk viewers through the reasons why this new form of genetic sequencing is so amazing and uncertain at the same time. The ethical objections raised by Human Nature will make viewers ponder how far we’re willing to go to eliminate human suffering long after it ends.