After this week's earlier presentation on Genetic Engineering and Patenting, I thought about a movie that I really liked while growing up, Gattaca. It was based on a book called Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which I have yet to read although it is in my book collection. The movie is based on the idea of how liberal eugenics becomes the norm and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class. According to Wikipedia, liberal eugenics is an "ideology which advocates the use of reproductive and genetic technologies where the choice of enhancing human characteristics and capacities is left to the individual preferences of parents acting as consumers, rather than the public health policies of the state". The movie revolves around the character Vincent Freeman played by Ethan Hawke, who is conceived and born without the aid of DNA enhancing technology, which is considered imperfect in the society portrayed in the movie. Vincent's younger brother, Anton, however is conceived with the aid of genetic selection. There is a game between these two brothers called 'chicken' in which they both swim out to the sea and the first to give up and swim back to the shore is the loser. Anton always wins due to his genetic enhancement but one day Vincent ends up swimming out further than his brother. Vincent dreams of becoming an astronaut but is discriminated due to his 'imperfect' DNA. He ends up buying the identity of a 'valid' candidate by using his urine and hair samples to bypass periodic security checks. Without giving too much away, the movie is basically a love letter to the human spirit and how the human heart can thrive over what is perceived to be genetic perfection. Vincent ends beating all odds and becomes the astronaut that he sets out to be in the end.
While stem cell research is still a distant reality at this point, will society one day be judged based on their genetic superiority? Do we allow ourselves to 'enhance' our own offsprings and lead ourselves into a super human race?