The recent announcement of the draft version of the complete human genetic code has sparked politicians in Italy and Germany to publish plans on national genome programmes, reports last week's Nature. The German federal research ministry plans a significant increase in funding for genome research, while the Italian Senate has approved a bill that would put much genome research under the control of a government-appointed committee.
Funding for the German Human Genome Project (DHGP), launched in 1996, is to increase from DM44 million to DM66 million for the next four years. German scientists have welcomed the increase, seeing it as the first strong commitment to genomics research by Social Democrat politicians. 'The research ministry's plans are very close to what the scientific community had been lobbying for' said Detlev Ganten, president of an umbrella group for Germany's national research centres.
Meanwhile, Italian researchers are unhappy with plans to set up a three-member panel of experts to control significant aspects of genomics research. The panel would decide what type of basic and applied research could be done in Italy, taking advice from expert committees on bioethical and safety issues. But many scientists claim the move is hasty, and does not consider existing national and scientific advisory committees.