Venter's Bold Venture

A biologist's rush to map human DNA stirs fears that he could become the Bill Gates of biotech

He was a surfer and a hospital corpsman in Vietnam. He is a presidential adviser on germ warfare and a millionaire yachtsman who, in his 82-ft. sloop Sorcerer, won the first transatlantic race he entered. Indeed, Sorcerer is an appropriate name for a boat owned by J. Craig Venter, one of America's most high-profile biologists. For Venter has conjured up an audacious plan that has so shaken the world of science that it was the focus of a congressional hearing last week.

Simply stated, Venter claims that he--virtually single-handedly--can achieve the goals of the mammoth, federally financed Human Genome Project in...

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