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SCI/TECH: Winds of Change: Science Goes Open Source

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posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 10:35 AM
Even though our tax dollars fund scientific research, the results are protected by confidentiality agreements, Intellectual Property Rights laws and Patent Rights. "Confidential" research results include information about the dangerous effects of prescription drugs. Many scientists say private ownership of scientific information blocks progress. The global Open Access movement has been working to correct the situation. Last October, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) took the bull by the horns and made Open Access publication a condition of funding. Now, independent organizations like the Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS) and the Science Commons are setting up Open Source access to biotechnology information.
"To push research forward, scientists need to draw from the best data and innovations in their field. Much of the work, however, is patented, leaving many academic and nonprofit researchers hamstrung. But an Australian organization advocating an open-source approach to biology hopes to free up biological data without violating intellectual property rights.

The battle lies between biotech companies like multinational Monsanto, who can grant or deny the legal use of biological information, and independent organizations like The Biological Innovation for Open Society, or BIOS, and Science Commons. The indies want to give scientists free access to the latest methods in biotechnology through the web.

...Under an open-source contract between scientists, just like open-source software, developers would be free to use these methods to create new products. The products themselves would be proprietary, but the techniques and components used to make them would be open to all, meaning more bio-products, competition, smaller markets and faster improvements, Jefferson said.

...If Jefferson and his fellow rebel scientists succeed, biotech companies stand to lose their monopoly on creating integrated biological systems. But he believes human health, safety and standards of living will all suffer under the present patent structure."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This one is a no-brainer, in my opinion. We help pay for it, so we have a right to it. And we need the information to protect ourselves in this unnatural chemical environment we've constructed.

The two big arguments against Open Access and Open Source are:

1. Ordinary people aren't smart enough or educated enough to understand the information or interpret results correctly, so they will panic unnecessarily; and

2. Terrorists will use scientific information to do bad things.

The same arguments are being used to justify controlled access to the Internet.

Truth is, information is power - and industry benefits big time by keeping research results secret. Looks like "confidentiality" and "rights" are more about keeping ordinary people in the dark, and holding power for the corporate takeover.

The terrorist scare tactics just smell like the usual red herring.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
NEWS: NIH Bypasses Need for Open Access Legislation
ATS: Merck and Vioxx: A Twisted Tale of Cover-ups, Pork and Profits
SCI/TECH: Medical Study Says Knowledge Makes People Sick, Advocates Internet Controls
ATS: Tenet Calls For Internet Security/Control

posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 05:22 PM
soficrow, Good article as usuall. I can't help but be a bit apprehensive about the #2 obstacle you mentioned, as the Gov't is really the only entity
that can stop this coming....avalanch of innovation, all in the name of "Security". The #1 Reason you mentioned for being against this movement made me laugh really, what is an "ordinary" person anyway? I am all for this movement if they are dedicated to Cures and not just Treatments. More Prevention plz
I wanna live a long long long long long ... time heh. I see this as the best way to achieve it in a Democratic and Open way.

posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 05:40 PM
This such a huge thing IMO. I have long been troubled by the ability of corporations to patent genes/proteins. It bothers me at such a core level. I am glad to see some steps being taken to reverse what I consider to be a dangerous trend. However, the attitude in the US is vehemently pro-patent. The debate surrounding patenting of individual genes is pretty much dead. The issue has evolved to the patenting of entire genomes, which in my opinion is particularly dangerous. Patenting of this type of info absolutely halts progress. At my job, one of the things I do is track down Intellectual property info relevant to products we want to release. It's frustrating. If we wanted to release an early diagnostic for prostate cancer (something I am working on) we've got to search all the IP for it, and stack lots of licensing fees. It becomes difficult to make a profit. Of course profit SHOULD NOT be the bottom line, but in a capitalist society, it is. We've specifically not developed diagnostics because of all the IP stacking involved. It's unfortunate when things like this get in the way of human progress.

Good post! I tried posting something similar once, but didn't have any links to post. I just wrote it off the top of my head, and people don't respond as well to that.

[edit on 19-1-2005 by mattison0922]

posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 07:05 PM
Thanks for the link and the heads up on this one sardion, and the compliment too.

Mattison - a good source for analysis and links-

As you say, this is a HUGE topic, and very important... We need to watch this months meeting in South Amercica - it will be an issue there.


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