In 2003 the Human Genome Project, culminating a 13-year effort, announced that they had succeeded in identifying the more than 20,000 genes in human DNA. Having decoded the "book of life," scientists would now be able to understand better how the human organism works, paving the way for improved treatment of diseases and the development of new medicines and healthcare techniques.
TRACKED DOWN BY OUR GENES shows how this scientific breakthrough, which has provided a map through the labyrinth of heredity, allowing us to trace our ancestors' footprints, has ushered in a new age of genetic awareness, with hundreds of companies offering tests to determine ancestry, paternity, and hereditary diseases.
In addition to such benefits, however, there is increasing concern about the potential abuse of this scientific knowledge, such as the national databases of genetic information on millions of individuals being used in forensic investigations by police departments worldwide. In exploring this new frontier between social science and biology, TRACKED DOWN BY OUR GENES features interviews with leading geneticists, microbiologists, anthropologists, sociologists, police, civil-liberties lawyers, and genetic rights activists.
Those interviewed in the film include Dr. Mark Shriver of Penn State University, Dr. Jonathan Beckwith of the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Troy Duster of New York University, Matt Thomas of DNAPrint Genomics, Gina Paige of African Ancestry, Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University, Jeremy Rifkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends, ACLU attorney Barry Steinhardt and Sharon Terry of the Genetic Alliance.
Through interviews with those involved in the development and use of new genetic technologies, TRACKED DOWN BY OUR GENES illuminates the ethical and legal issues generated by the genomic revolution as well as its possible dangers, including racial profiling, government control and genetic discrimination.
“Pertinent to courses in physical anthropology, criminal justice, and ethics. Genetic testing is a field that is evolving rapidly and the issues warrant attention. The film is a good resource for initiating discussion in such matters so I am happy to give TRACKED DOWN BY OUR GENES an enthusiastic recommendation.” —William Yaworsky, Anthropology Review Database