By Martha J. Heil
BETHESDA, MD — Responding to an NHGRI report naming six “high-priority” organisms for genome sequencing, thousands of animals took to the NIH campus here today to protest.
The animals, including the Xenopus frog, pig, and duck-billed platypus, insisted that the selection of some organisms over others amounted to genetic discrimination. “It’s bad enough that we are burdened with being the universal metaphor for everything filthy,” said the pig with a snort.
Protesters sang, croaked, buzzed. squealed, and threw their own feces at researchers entering the NHGRI labs. "No wonder we''re going mad," said the cow, threatening to hold a milk strike.
"Who ever heard of Tetrahymena thermophila?" said the cat. "How did that spineless wonder make it to the top?"
Not all animals, though, saw sequencing as desirable. The chicken, listed as a high priority for sequencing in the report, was seen trying to escape amidst the turmoil. "I''m just too afraid," she said.
NHGRI said that it would consider adding other animals to the sequencing list in the future. But animal protesters said that the institute did not give clear reasons why some animals were chosed over others.
"Our name is synonymous with ''animal used in research,''" said the guinea pig. "But I guess if you''re Craig Venter''s show poodle, you move to the top of the list."