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A Review and Analyses of the Documentary: Cracking the Code of Life

The documentary by PBS: “Cracking the Code of Life” basically observes the complexities, dilemmas, and issues inside the race to decipher the human genome. The documentary shows the views of experts and scientists or heads of genome research institutions, as well as the leaders and founders of the Human Genome Project. I enjoyed watching this documentary and was quite fascinated by the facts presented regarding the nature of our DNA Structure, and how it compares to other species.

This work is an effective way to encourage students to undertake their research studies, in this field or in the field of choice, in a deeper way to be able to explore and observe not just scientific facts or phenomena but the social and individual implications of their research, and how it translates into an increasingly political society’s wellbeing. An issue discussed in the documentary regarding gene patenting had me taken aback reflecting on the social implications it could have on the future. For some corporate organization or institute to own my DNA, for its research seems unethical to me, and the idea that human genes could be patented seems like an exploitation of mankind. A human being should remain an owner of his DNA. In my opinion, it might be better to patent the techniques for determining a gene’s sequence instead of patenting an individual’s sequence. Despite the claims to cure diseases, which may undeniably be true, from an ethical perspective, owning somebody’s DNA that can eventually turn into a source of profit for the company that paid for the research seems daunting. So far we as a society have not modified or begun to select our genes yet. Still, it is possible that this may become the new political issue in the future on which liberals and conservatives may be divided. Genetic engineering on crops has borne fruitful results, but also diseases. However, research in this field is encouraging and yields a lot of possibilities for the future.

After watching the video, I became more aware of the Human Genome Project’s role in gene mapping and the genetic code (Arledge, 2001). I learned a lot about genes and diseases that come with mutations in the gene sequence. The fact that these genes can transfer to Children with a life expectancy of 7 years is painful to watch. The documentary explores the possibility of what could have been done had the parents known their offspring might develop this problem before birth. The film heightened my interest in Genomics (Vanderbilt University, 2009). As far as legal implications of gene modification are concerned, the question arises is how scientists or the government define a serious disease to mandate gene modification, or what the standards could be. Could the criteria evolve with time? Will it interfere with our emotions, aspirations, and dreams using their changing pretexts? It is quite possible.

The idea is that this information would be entered into databases maintained for each, how big businesses and corporations will find pretexts for using it to expand their profits. Nowadays a lot of personal information is cleverly obtained from smartphones for advertising. A genetic database of individuals could interfere with our choice of mates and love. If companies had access to this information, they could use it to scrutinize applicants for the job. The social implications are endless. In my opinion, we as a society must define concrete standards and red lines, since this information falling into greedy corporate hands could interfere with our entire ideas of what it means to be human or social.


Arledge, E. (Director). (2001). PBS: Cracking the Code of Life [Motion Picture].

Vanderbilt University. (2009, Spring). Genetics and literature. Retrieved from Vanderbilt University Blogs:



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