Site Visit: Genomics Grapevine

Deaths in gene therapy trials. The potential threat to monarch butterflies from transgenic corn. The moral dilemma of stem cells, taken from discarded embryos in hopes of treating diseases such as Parkinson's. For info on these and other current controversies in genetics, pay a visit to Genomics: A Global Resource).

Updated each weekday, the site's Genomics Today page offers news articles and press releases from over 30 sources on everything from gene discoveries to protests against genetically modified crops. A legislative page tracks hearings and other congressional news, and other sections focus on hot-button topics. Some are more up-to-date than others: Last week the stem cell pages included September statements from a national bioethics commission and from President Clinton, whereas the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) news hadn't been updated since June.

Still, you'll find scores of links to resources--such as genomics databases--and background documents, such as treaties on biological weapons and biological diversity. Another highlight is a genetics lexicon where you can brush up on such terms as gyandromorph (an organism with both male and female cells) or homeobox, which is a short string of nucleotides occurring in many different genes. Although the site's main sponsor is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a lobby group for drug companies, it does not offer its own spin on developments in the breakneck-paced genomics world.