Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 06, 2005

More on open source biology

Drew Endy, Open Source Biology, a presentation at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, August 5, 2005. The presentation itself is not online (at least so far), but here's a short summary by Andy Oram:
On eBay you can buy equipment that let you change an organism's genome. There are many exciting (and perhaps scary) applications of this, but due to the imprudent legalization of patenting genes, many useful biological functions cannot be manipulated without permission from some discoverer. Endy also warned about the quality of the programmed organism (this is the scary part), and risks of other intellectual property claims. In several notorious cases, GE crops have turned up where they shouldn't, because nature doesn't recognize property boundaries or license agreements. But Endy also asked whether reverse engineering would be possible or legal so that users could take control over their crops. He finished by saying that the public must be brought into these discussions, as with open source software, and announced the founding of an organization with this goal.