Free Personal Genome Activism goes International
Today GTO pointed to a new website advocating the $0 Genome Project. A WhoIs look-up shows the administrative contact for the various websites associated with this project to be the Korean Bioinformation Center (KOBIC).
The last major bid for a free genome project was made from California in September of 2004 under the banner of the CUVIGS Initiative, or Californians for Universal Voluntary Individual Genome Sequencing.
Without surprise, CUVIGS supporters looked to George Church for feedback (interview still available here). Snip from their news release:
Professor Church believes that the emergence of Californians for Universal Voluntary Individual Genomic Sequencing, which is trying to place an initiative on the California ballot that would provide public funding to increase the availability and lower the unit cost of doing individual genomic sequencing, “sounds like a wonderful initiative, very visionary of California to think of such a thing….If the people spoke out like that, it would be a historic moment.” He added that “it needs to be phased in carefully with lots of oversight.” He also supported competition between Massachusetts and California to see who could pass such an initiative first.
Now, it seems, we can add South Korea to the competition for free personal genomes.
If they were to exist, “free genomes” would be more equivalent to “free kittens” than “free beer” in terms of the responsibility needed. Free beer requires very little commitment, there are virtually no instructions for its proper use and it can just be poured down the sink if it is doesn’t meet expectations. George’s recommendation for careful oversight of any such project, would be essential.