The Gene Gap is the story of ourselves and of our future.
Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR to make heritable changes in human embryos.
CRISPR is a revolutionary technology that Doudna helped create. It is the cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known and may well give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world’s hunger crisis.
Yet even the tiniest changes to DNA could have myriad, unforeseeable consequences – to say nothing of the ethical and societal repercussions of intentionally mutating embryos to create ‘better’ humans.
But even as the moratorium was called, work had already begun in China on the first ‘post genomic human’ sparking a new ‘intercontinental arms race’.
To understand the significance of CRISPR we have to understand that up until now genetic therapy affected a cell’s function, but it did not alter the human genome beyond the current generation – the altered gene was lost when the cell dies.
With CRISPR, ‘enhancements’ and ‘improvements’ can be incorporated permanently into the human genome and transmitted from one generation to the next. The inserted gene becomes inextricably linked to the human genome.
Never before has an intelligent organism learnt to write its own instructions changing not just nature, but human nature.
CRISPR allows those with the knowledge to effectively taken control of evolution.
This character driven short film charts the rapid evolution of gene therapies and raises fundamental questions about the colossal responsibilities and seismic implications for all life on earth …
What will we do with this unfathomable power?
Who will control ‘human directed evolution’ and have authority over life’s genetic makeup?
Is it inevitable that this new technology will enhance existing socioeconomic prejudices?