What we’ve shown is the concept of race
has no scientific basis.
—J. Craig Venter, International Herald Tribune, 2000
Those who wish to draw precise racial boundaries
around certain groups will not be able to use science
as a legitimate justification.
—Francis S. Collins, Cancer, 2001
We could test once and for all whether
genetic race is a credible concept.
—Aravinda Chakarvarti, Nature, 2009
A GIANT FLATSCREEN with the words “Decoding the Book of Life: A Milestone for Humanity” blinked in the background. The velvety blue of the flag in the corner of the room took on nuanced textures as cameras flashed. On June 26, 2000, President Bill Clinton, flanked by genome mappers Craig Venter and Francis Collins, announced that the human genome had been mapped: “Today, we are learning the language in which God created life…. I believe one of the great truths to emerge from this triumphant expedition inside the human genome is that in genetic terms, all human beings, regardless of race, are more than 99.9 percent the same.” Those present hailed genomics as the most transformative science in history—a milestone in human intellectual development, a sign of the arrival of geopolitical unity, and evidence of the essential fraternity of humanity. The most powerful scientists of the day joined Clinton in stating that scientific investigation into race would go no further. Genomics had once and for all closed the door on the idea of biological race.