While the human genome project has (so far) generated only limited benefits for medicine, it has had huge consequences for our understanding of the evolution of humans and other species. Venter's own genome was used as one of the reference sequences in the recent sequencing of the Neandertal nuclear genome, eg, and comparisons of the human genome with that of chimps, mice, etc. is now carried out routinely. I read these kinds of papers every day.

Other things we have learned from the human genome project can be found here:

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/project/journals/insights.shtml

I, personally, want to know these things and am glad we know them. Fortunately, I'm not the only one.

MB

On Sun, Aug 1, 2010 at 11:28 PM, Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

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                    QUOTE OF THE MONTH
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+ "WE HAVE LEARNED NOTHING FROM THE GENOME" - VENTER

Excerpt from interview by German publication Der Spiegel  with J. Celera Venter, whose team first mapped the human genome amid huge hype about cures for cancer, Parkinson's disease, ageing, etc.

SPIEGEL:  How much would you be able to learn about us by [obtaining our entire genetic information]?
Venter:  If anything, we don't really know how to read the genome and it can't tell us very much right now.  So what's the ethical debate about?

SPIEGEL:  The decoding of your personal genome has so far revealed little more than the fact that your ear wax tends to be moist.
Venter:  That's what you say.  And what else have I learned from my genome?  Very little.  We couldn't even be certain from my genome what my eye color was.  Isn't that sad?  Everyone was looking for miracle 'yes/no' answers in the genome.  "Yes, you'll have cancer."  Or "No, you won't have cancer."  But that's just not the way it is.

SPIEGEL:  So the Human Genome Project has had very little medical benefits so far?
Venter:  Close to zero to put it precisely.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,709174-2,00.html

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        I hope I may be forgiven for intoning "I told you so".  For a decade now, I have said DNA sequences showed very little potential for any use. 

RM




--
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Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/balter.html
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"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." -- Hélder Pessoa Câmara