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Roundtable: The meaning of the genome

Are we on the brink of great medical breakthroughs? Is the patent issue a problem? What can genetics tell us about human behaviour? Are the sceptics just "full of social science crap"? James D Watson, Geoff Mulgan, Steven Rose, Robert Plomin, Steve Jones, Nancy Cartwright and Peter Goodfellow discuss the meaning of the genome...

By Prospect   October 2000

GEOFF MULGAN: Jim Watson, as one of the people most responsible for the development of modern genetics, how do you think history will rank the importance of the Human Genome Project?

JAMES D WATSON: Having the human instruction book is a seminal moment in history. We can read the instructions [the genotype] which lead to the development and functioning of our bodies [the phenotype].

STEVEN ROSE: I am uneasy about this metaphor of the instruction book. It doesn?t capture the way genes interact with each other or with other components of the cell. The implication of the instruction metaphor is…

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