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Mapping the Human Genome

On Face the Nation, Correspondent Bob Schieffer talked with Dr. Francis Collins of the Human Genome Project and author Jeremy Rifkin about the completion of the project to map the human gene.

"This is a big deal," said Dr. Collins about the mapping of the human genome. "This is a scientific adventure like no other one we've gone on, because it is an adventure into ourselves. It is reading our own instruction book, something we only have to do once in all of history."

Rifkin warned such knowledge could be misused unless privacy safeguards were put in place now.

"The fact is, employers, insurance companies, school boards, adoption agencies, a lot of institutions are going to want to know our genetic profiles," he said. "I believe this issue of genetic privacy will be one of the great social issues of the 21st century."
Rikfin added that every time a company locates one of the genes that make up the human blueprint, it's being claimed as a patented invention.

"That means that in less than 20 years from now," he said, "the entire genetic blueprint of the human race will be owned in the form of intellectual property by a handful of companies. That gives them tremendous power to dictate the terms upon which this knowledge is used for."

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