In the blockbuster Jurassic Park Jeff Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcom famously said that the scientists practicing genetic manipulation “were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Adam Bolt’s documentary Human Nature briefly references this iconic quote, but also shows that the conversation around the controversial practice is far more complex than that.

Focusing on the scientific genetic breakthrough known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), Bolt’s film is a sprawling exploration of how the biological discovery could change life as we know it. For years scientists have been trying to figure out how to isolate and fix problematic codes in our DNA. The strains of code that cause conditions such as Sickle Cell and numerous other ailments.

CRISPR changed all of this. The discovery opened avenues to not only repair breaks in the DNA code, but potentially eliminate the defect from future generations. While many in the scientific community praise the revolutionary finding, CRISPR comes with its own share of difficult societal and moral questions.

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Some of the tough question include who gets to decide what changes are considered necessary or reasonable? Will governments allow everyone access or just those who can afford to pay the high cost? Where is the ethical line when if comes to altering the genetic makeup of future generations?

Bolt’s film does not offer concrete answers to the numerous questions posed. Frankly it would be impossible to do so and maintain its brisk pacing. However, through conversations with various scientists, bio-engineers, reporters, leading educators, and the families who would be significantly impacted by CRISPR, Human Nature adds greater context to the debates surrounding the practice.

Human Nature’s greatest strength is its ability to present the dense information in an easily digestible way. One does not need a degree in microbiology to understand the various technical terms discussed. Thanks to the engaging mixture of personalities that Bolt interviews, the film makes compelling arguments for both the benefits and dangers that CRISPR holds.

An engaging and thought-provoking film, Human Nature is a necessary conversation starter.

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