Cracking the Code of Life Reflection

Early this month, we watched Cracking the Code of Life, made by PBS, narrating the quest to complete the first DNA sequence in the Human Genome project. Following the story of Celera, a high-tech private company run by Craig Venter, we see the battle to create a gene map between government run businesses and private companies. This race ultimately motivated both the government and businesses to create the DNA sequences at a faster pace and pushed the need for higher tech machines to read our genes, our DNA, the code of life. This documentary also explores ethical debates with new technology. With the possibility of being able to change or choose one’s DNA poses problems of messing with humanity. As they looked at gene mutations, such as Tay-Sach’s and cystic fibrosis, I was able to see how one lives with these disorders or syndromes and how they are caused at the genetic level.

Although this was quite long, dated, and admittedly uninteresting at parts, I was interested in how they explained ethical questions although they were not specifically stated in the documentary. In class, we had discussed if it would be ethical to choose one’s DNA. There are both pros, the fact that no one or family would suffer on a daily basis, but we found this was outweighed by the fact that this messes with our inherent being and the fact that no human is perfect. I personally believe that this is inhumane and our code should not be messed with. Diseases, and the pain that comes with them inspires and drives businesses, individuals, and families, such as the Lords, to find a cure or invent treatments to heal these poor victims.

I was personally intrigued when they mentioned gene inheritance, which we have been talking about in our current genetics unit because I looked into recently if I am a carrier for any diseases through 23andme. In the documentary it mentioned that Ashkenazi Jews, which I am, are a likely carrier for Tay-Sachs and I was pleased to find that I am not a carrier for that or any other disease or mutation. I believe that knowledge is power and I wanted to know if I was a carrier for a disease because that would not only affect me but my children and I’d want to know that before hand so I could plan accordingly.

Overall I was interested and intrigued by this documentary and found it revolutionary even though it was from 2001. Feel free to check it out below and find out about the code of life!


2 thoughts on “Cracking the Code of Life Reflection

  1. Helen, It was interesting to talk about your experience with 23andMe when we were in class. I agree that knowledge is power and with power comes much responsibility. We will be continuing to discuss the ethical issues that come with knowing more and more about genetics and manipulation of genomes. Stay tuned!


  2. I agree about the Celera documentary! It was made quite awhile ago and broadcasted to a general public that didn’t know much about genetics as a whole. Now with all the research we have today, we probably could create a much more visually appealing film filled with more research and cutting edge projects that are on the horizon today (designer babies?!).


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