This meeting report summarizes the proceedings of the fifth Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) workshop held December 12-14, 2007, at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Cambridge, UK. This fifth workshop served as a milestone event in the evolution of the GSC (launched in September 2005); the key outcome of the workshop was the finalization of a stable version of the MIGS specification (v2.0) for publication. This accomplishment enables, and also in some cases necessitates, downstream activities, which are described in the multiauthor, consensus-driven articles in this special issue of OMICS produced as a direct result of the workshop. This report briefly summarizes the workshop and overviews the special issue. In particular, it aims to explain how the various GSC-led projects are working together to help this community achieve its stated mission of further standardizing the descriptions of genomes and metagenomes and implementing improved mechanisms of data exchange and integration to enable more accurate comparative analyses. Further information about the GSC and its range of activities can be found at http://gensc.org.