Genome Discovery: Breakthrough or Threat?

Individual human genome decoded, key step in nature/nurture debate –

PARIS (AFP) – The first individual genome ever sequenced — a complete DNA blueprint of celebrity scientist Craig Venter — has revealed genetic variation among humans far richer than previously imagined.

Published Tuesday in the online open-access journal PLoS Biology, the 2.8 billion contiguous bits of genetic code will also hasten advances in preventative medicine, said Venter, who is both an author and the object of the study.

Within five years, faster and cheaper sequencing techniques could produce complete genomes for 10,000 people, laying the foundation for “an era of individualized genomics,” he predicted.

“Once we have those, we will basically be able to sort out every fundamental question about nature versus nurture, what’s genetic and what’s environment,” he said by phone.

The findings overturn what had in a few short years become genetic gospel: that all human beings are, genetically speaking, 99.9 identical.