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Genes, genes, and more genes

12:28pm, October 22, 2002

In the race for genes, a desire for publicity seems to be winning out over the peer-review process. Instead of scientific publication, genome researchers are increasingly turning to press releases and news conferences to present their findings.

In the past few weeks alone, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that its scientists had completed a "rough draft" of the DNA sequence of three human chromosomes, a controversial biotech firm reported that it had sequenced all the DNA of a person, and an agricultural company surprised plant scientists by saying that it had deciphered almost all the genes of rice and would make that information freely available.

DOE held a press conference to describe progress that agency scientists have made toward decoding the genetic information of human chromosomes 5, 16, and 19. It may take more than a year, however, before the investigators finish their work and have the data presentable for scientific publication.

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