Excitement over the cow genome…why?

They’ve sequenced the genome for a female Hereford cow, according the BBC News here. In reading the article, you’ll find a fair chunk of equivocation.

The genome of a female Hereford cow has been sequenced, which could be a major starting point for improvements in the agricultural industry.

The information is likely to have a major impact on livestock breeding. [emphasis mine]

Other genomes have been mapped, notably the human genome, and as far as I’m aware, nothing much has come of it. Denise Caruso in her webcast discussion with Rick Weiss on synthetic biology (for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies) mentioned the Encode Project where they identified all the functional elements in the human genome sequence. There was an international consortium working on this multi-year project  and, according to Caruso, after it was completed the biologists found that they still don’t understand how the genes actually interact within the body. In other words, you may have markers for a disease that never manifests because of other factors which are part of your personal biology. Theories are all very well but they don’t necessarily function outside a laboratory.

Eta: I forgot to mention that a team of Simon Fraser University researchers worked with colleagues at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland on the cow genome.

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