of functional genomics and proteomics are just beginning to emerge. Phillips questioned whether some of the current techniques that are in use, such as knockouts in mice, are adequate for the challenges ahead. “Are they adequate

Box 6-1 Factors That Contributed to the Establishment of the Plant Genome Initiative

  • Science and technology that had matured enough to deserve serious consideration

  • An interagency approach

  • A scientific foundation

  • Support of stakeholders

  • Support of Congress

  • Key agency leadership

  • Input from a broad range of scientific experts from throughout the world

Source: Ronald Phillips, University of Minnesota.

for what researchers are trying to do, or should they devise a system of knockouts in a species that is important, in terms of your future lists of candidate species for sequencing?”

“My second point that I thought was important for success of plant genome initiative was the interagency approach.” By bringing together various federal agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), USDA and National Institutes of Health (NIH), identifying their common interests within animal and microbial genomics, and preparing an interagency agenda for a research initiative, Phillips suggested, discussion in the U.S. Congress will be stimulated.

Given the diversity of interests and the resources involved for genomic research, politics are an inevitable component of the development of an initiative. Phillips noted that the researchers and advocates should focus their efforts on what they know and do best—the science. “The third point was it should be science-based. Make your arguments based on science and let that carry the day.”

“The fourth point was commodity support. The corn growers brought this to the fore. They went to Congress and Congress asked them, where do you place this in your order of priorities? And they said, number one. After that was said, that was the end of the argument in many ways. It was a matter of how do you get it done. They were convinced when the commodity groups, particularly corn growers, said that was important to them.”

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