Bari Scott, Matt Binder, and Jude Thilman
Genome Radio Project, produced at KPFA-FM, Berkeley, CA 94704.
The DNA Files is a series of nationally distributed public radio programs furthering public education on developments in genetic science. Program content is guided by a distinguished body of advisors and will include the voices of prominent genetic researchers, people affected by advances in the clinical application of genetic medicine, members of the biotech industry, and others from related fields. They will provide real-life examples of the complex social and ethical issues associated with new discoveries in genetics. In addition to the general public radio audience, the series will target educators, scientists, and involved professionals. Ancillary educational materials will be distributed in paper and digital form through over two dozen collaborative organizations and fulfillment of listener requests.
"DNA and Behavior: Is Our Fate Written in Our Genes?" is the pilot documentary for the series, scheduled for release in early 1996. The show will help the lay person understand and evaluate recent research in the area of behavioral genetics. Recently, we've seen news media reports on newly discovered genetic factors being related to behaviors such as alcoholism, mental illness, sexual orientation and aggression. This program will look at several examples of these "genetic factors" and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various methodologies involved in the research; and introduce such controversial issues as the re-emergence of a eugenics movement based on theoretical suppositions drawn from recent work in behavioral genetics.
With information linking major diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and arteriosclerosis to genetic factors, new dangers in public perception emerge. Many people who hear about them mistakenly conclude that these diseases can now be easily diagnosed and even cured. On the other end of the public perception spectrum, unfounded fears of extreme, and highly unlikely, consequences also appear. Will society now genetically engineer whole generations of people with "designer genes" offering more "desirable physical qualities"? The DNA Files will ground public understanding of these issues in reality. "DNA and the Law" reviews the scientific basis for genetic fingerprinting and looks at cases of alleged genetic discrimination by insurance companies, employers and others. This program also looks at disputes over paternity, intellectual property rights, the commercialization of genetic information, informed consent and privacy issues. Other shows include "The Search for a Breast Cancer Gene," "Prenatal Genetic Testing and Treatment," "Evolution and Genetic Diversity," "Sickle-Cell Disease and Thalassemia: Hope for a Cure," and "Theology, Mythology and Human Genetic Research."
*Supported by ELSI grant DE-FG03-95ER62003 from the Office of Health and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy.
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