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The genome gets political

How can we help the genome in the public domain?

By Tom Wilkie   November 1999

Not since the enclosures of common land has there been such a conflict over the boundary between public and private property. Who owns the genome?

Deciphering the genetic code is one of the biggest steps in biology since Vesalius published the first human anatomy in 1543, and the first milestone has just been passed: researchers at the Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Centre, near Cambridge, have decoded an entire human chromosome (number 22). By the end of the year, the Sanger scientists will announce that they have sequenced one third of all human DNA. A rough draft of the genome-three billion letters…

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