One impetus behind the last-minute reconciliation between the
Celera Genomics Corporation and the public Human Genome Project
rivals' mutual interest in popular support for genetic science
technology. An unseemly feud would have marred their effort
the "mapping" of the human genome as a noble and high-minded
Thus the key scientific figures were also careful to reassure
about genetic discrimination, privacy concerns, and other potential
posed by emerging genetic technologies. And in a little-noticed
Celera's Craig Venter and Human Genome Project director Francis
responded to a question about human germline engineering.
Collins' statement was: "There are many safety issues
involved in germline
manipulationů.I know of no responsible investigator who
wants to go into
the germline because of the real safety and ethical issues."
commented, "Until we thoroughly understand how this biology
works, I don't
know of anyone who would do this work."
Real opposition to human germline engineering by Collins and
be enormously welcome. Unfortunately, formulations like Venter's
ambiguous. Will he support "going into the germline"
when he decides
that the biology is understood?
Nor are past records like that of Collins reassuring. In 1997,
an enthusiastic foreword for Playing God?, a book by human germline
engineering advocate Ted Peters (New York: Routledge, 1997).
a December 1999 interview, Collins opened the typical "not
at this time"
loophole, saying that "for the time being, the focus is
not on germline
therapy." See <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/health/