2021 Video: In-Depth Reporting - Silver

Gene editing with a remarkable new technology called CRISPR may be opening a new chapter on what it means to be human, the award-winning filmmakers report. For sickle cell disease, replacing just a single misplaced base molecule in the cell’s DNA can produce a cure. But how far should we go? Would it be wrong to engineer soldiers to feel no pain or allow parents to choose their child’s features, like eye color or height? The scientists who pioneered human genome studies and the developers of CRISPR technology are grappling with such questions, as are bioethicists who worry decisions may be made without sufficient public engagement. As Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin, told the filmmakers: “You don’t realize it’s disruptive, until you look backward. Often, you don’t realize that you’re in the middle of a revolution until after the revolution has occurred.” Dutch science journalist and Judge Jop de Vrieze, called “Human Nature” a “great, balanced, touching movie with so many impressive scientists featured. In the end, the boy with sickle cell is the wisest of them all.” He praised the filmmakers’ focus on aspects of the CRISPR technique “without becoming superficial.” British science journalist and judge Angela Saini said the film was “an impressively nuanced, sensitive and enlightening exploration of what it means to be human in the age of gene editing, and how we might navigate complex ethical quandaries going forward.” Speaking for the production team, Adam Bolt said: “When our team set out to bring the mind-boggling science of CRISPR to life, we were determined not to fall into the trap of dumbing it down or overhyping it just to make the story easier to tell. Instead, we decided to lean into the complexity and nuance of the topic, with a firm belief that if we did our jobs right the audience would come along for the ride.”