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Opinion - Public or private? That's the story of the "first draft" of the human genome

What's behind today's announcement of the first draft of the genome.

Robert Walgate

The man from CNN was puzzled. Dr Jane Rogers, project manager of human sequencing at the Sanger Centre, the UK's human genome laboratory, had just told the eager press and TV at a news conference at the Wellcome Trust, London, this morning (26 June) that the Human Genome Project had now covered 97% of the genome.

But only 87% was sequenced. And only 24% had reached the "gold standard" of 99.99% accuracy. And two or three more years' work will be needed to fill gaps in the 28 000 clones and reach the desired overall accuracy.

"So why didn't you wait until you'd finished?" asked the TV man.

The somewhat lame answer was that "we always said there'd be a draft by 2000". So said Michael Dexter, Director of the Wellcome Trust - which has spent £210 million on the UK effort - amounting to roughly one-third of the human...

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