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transcript_HGP - 3 The DNA Files Unraveling the Mysteries...

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©SoundVision Productions, 1998 Page 1 of 20 3 The DNA Files: Unraveling the Mysteries of Genetics The Human Genome Project: Mapping the Future Transcript SoundVision Productions 2991 Shattuck Ave., Suite 304 Berkeley, CA 94705 510.486.1185 For further information about genetics and these programs, as well as the producers who brought you this series, visit the project web site at www.dnafiles.org . Send your questions about genetics and this project to [email protected] The Human Genome Project: Mapping the Future Transcript
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©SoundVision Productions, 1998 Page 2 of 20 [ music ] JOHN HOCKENBERRY: This is the DNA Files, I’m John Hockenberry . Some say we are about to undergo a global biological revolution. FRANCIS COLLINS: It’s the book of life. It’s the instruction book for human biology. This sequence of DNA carries around all of our hereditary material . Three billion letters in length is basically responsible for our being able to do all the things biologically that we have to as human beings. The goal of the Genome Project is to read that script, to read our own instruction book. JOHN HOCKENBERRY: The Human Genome Project is an international effort to map all the genes in the human body. With it we begin to look at ourselves at the chemical level to answer questions about our evolution: how we age, why we become ill, even what shapes our personalities. The project started in 1990 and won’t be done until the year 2003. But what have we learned so far? Coming up The Human Genome Project: Mapping The Future. But first... [ pause ] The history of modern genetics began not with the description of DNA in 1953, but back in 1900. The rediscovery of Gregor Mendel’s work with pea plants allowed scientists to make great strides in deciphering the genetic code. But human genetics before World War Two was tainted by widely accepted theories of racial improvement called eugenics. A dark chapter it took some pioneering scientists to expunge, as John Rieger reports. FEATURE STORY JOHN RIEGER: We’re at a state fair in the mid 1920s watching in the warmth of the evening as a proud young family receives the Capper Medal. It shows a man and a woman beholding a radiant infant and the motto, “I have a goodly heritage.” The Capper Medal is a eugenics prize awarded by the judges to the fittest family. DANIEL KEVLES: Competitions were usually held in what were called the “human stock” sections of these fairs. JOHN RIEGER: Daniel Kevles is a professor of humanities at the California Institute of Technology. These fitter family competitions, he says, show the public’s enthusiasm for eugenics. Eugenicists believed that society’s ills could be traced to bad genes, and eliminated by selective breeding. They studied traits like prostitution, and poverty, shiftlessness, even something called thalassophilia, love of the sea.
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