J. Craig Venter, the genomics mogul and scientific wizard who recently created a unique living organism from scratch in a matter of days, is searching for pay-dirt in the biodiversity-rich Galapagos Islands. From his 95-ft. yacht, Sorcerer II, Venter is hop-scotching around the globe collecting microbial diversity from gene-rich seas and shores every 200 miles.(1) Venter's ship has already sampled in the Sargasso Sea (North Atlantic), Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador (Galapagos), Chile and is now en route to French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora, etc.). In the Sorcerer's wake, governments are left with troubling questions about public domain diversity and private patenting, unresolved ethical and ecological concerns about the human-made creation of novel life forms, and huge gaps in the global community's capacity to address new technologies.
Playing God in the Galapagos