Genomania includes interviews with many of the major players in modern genetics, including several of the participants in The Tarrytown Meeting. Producer Andrew Kimbrell said a few words about the film’s purpose and plans for its distribution, and facilitated discussion about it.
The film looks at the history and science of genetics and concludes that what we call “the gene” is more a hypothesis than a proven concept, and has, among other things, helped corporations and governments bolster their control over key aspects of our social, economic and political lives.
Early ideas about the gene transformed American agriculture. They also spawned a eugenics movement that involved large-scale sterilizations and significant restrictions on immigration, and that was closely connected to programs leading to the Nazi holocaust.
The discovery in 2001 that humans have about as many genes as worms, and half as many as grapes, began to undermine conventional genetic wisdom. Further discoveries have revealed that so-called “junk” DNA, along with various RNAs and millions of epigenetic markers and proteins, work in dynamic relationship with the environment. Nonetheless, attempts to transform agriculture using genetic testing and engineering continue, and a revival of long-discredited eugenic ideologies and proposals are underway.