Quantum - Skin Deep
In a freezer at Stanford University in California is stored what some say is the most precious collection of blood samples ever assembled. Others describe the collection as a crime against humanity and label the endeavour, "Project Vampire."
The blood samples are the heart of what's officially known as the Human Genome Diversity Project, an ambitious international scheme whose aim is to tell the story from our genes, and construct a global family tree. Already the collection includes blood from hundreds of peoples, from Apaches to Australians, Tibetans to Timorese.
Around the world scientists are being encouraged to collect more. Stored inside our DNA are the similarities and differences between various peoples. Our genetic inheritance can also unravel how our ancestors populated the Earth. Scientists may even find explanations for why some groups resist disease better than others.
But what's bound to shake our tree the most is what we learn about race. How closely related are the far-flung peoples of the world? To some these are questions better left unanswered. Many indigenous people say they don't need scientists to tell them where they came from. And they find abhorrent the very notion of collecting something as sacred as blood. Some are so passionately opposed to the Project that they are working to shut it down, even as scientists are appealing for more funds.
Through the eyes of researchers, activist opponents and indigenous people caught in the middle this film navigates the minefield of arguments for and against the Human Genome Diversity Project and on four continents explores both it's extraordinary promise and it's darkest possibilities.
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