In a project likely to revolutionize the study of biology and have important impacts on international environmental policy, a group of nations this month began setting up a database where information about all named species will be recorded — in effect, a catalog of life on earth. The project — launched by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a research group encompassing the 29 most industrialized nations — will create a worldwide electronic information network called the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, which will be accessible via the Internet.

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