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In March, veterinary ophthalmologists at Cornell University zeroed in on the gene that causes a form of blindness in dogs. In so doing, they also found that the gene map closely matches one on the human genome.

The research was no anomaly—for humans or for Fido. The scientists were working on the dog genome project, which is similar to its larger cousin, the Human Genome Project. They aim to map out the 78 canine chromosomes and pinpoint those genes that cause certain diseases, physical attributes, and possibly even behaviors (such as a love for swimming in Newfoundlands and particular attentiveness in Border collies).

In particular, scientists are looking for genes with potential human counterparts. So far there is no indication that it will lead to “cosmetic genetics” (manipulating human genes for more “desirable” traits). Dogs are already an ugly reminder of what happens when you fiddle with the gene pool: Decades of inbreeding have led to a bizarre list of anomalies, such as bulldogs unable to whelp naturally and hyperaggressive pit bulls.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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