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September 18 2012

Junk DNA, Junky PR


A week ago, a huge, painstakingly orchestrated PR campaign was timed to coincide with multiple publications of a long-term study by the ENCODE consortium in top-ranking journals. The ENCODE project (EP) is essentially the next stage after the Human Genome Project (HGP). The HGP sequenced all our DNA (actually a mixture of individual genomes); the EP is an attempt to define what all our DNA does by several circumstantial-evidence gathering and analysis techniques.

The EP results purportedly revolutionize our understanding of the genome by “proving” that DNA hitherto labeled junk is in fact functional and this knowledge will enable us to “maintain individual wellbeing” but also miraculously cure intractable diseases like cancer and diabetes.

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