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SCI/TECH: Is Open Source Biotech a Trade-Off?

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posted on Feb, 10 2005 @ 12:20 AM
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An Open Source biotechnology website called BioForge was just launched by Biological Innovation for Open Society (BIOS). The 'kernel' contributions are two new technologies for the genetic modification of plants. The research was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The BIOS launch coincides with an attempt by Canada to overturn an international moratorium on Terminator GM sterilization technology at a UN meeting in Bangkok - and to "block consensus" on any other option.

 



www.wired.com
A paper appearing in this week's edition of Nature is antiseptically entitled: "Gene transfer to plants by diverse species of bacteria." But the information that lies within may herald a revolution in biology.

The paper describes two new technologies: TransBacter, a method for transferring genes to plants, and GUSPlus, a method of visualizing where the genes are and what they do. Behind the research, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, is a team of scientists who want to provide the technologies as a "kernel," modeled on the Linux movement, as the beginning of perhaps the first practical offering in open-source biology.

Researchers who want to develop technologies based on this kernel can use it as they wish if they agree to a flexible license issued by Biological Innovation for Open Society, or BIOS. The initiative is being spearheaded by Richard Jefferson, also founder of Cambia, an agricultural life science institute in Canberra, Australia.

For the vision to become reality, BIOS plans to reach out to these entities with its BioForge website, which it launched Wednesday. Scientists can deposit and obtain scientific information on the site.

"This is important, fundamental agricultural technology moving into the commons," said John Wilbanks, executive director of Science Commons, a group working to make it easier, and legal, to share scientific data. "This is the type of tool that, in increasing numbers, is being patented. To use the operating system metaphor, this is Print-F for plant genomics. Imagine trying to build any piece of software if the print function required a patent license."

Jefferson is interested in seeing small-time farmers, rather than big companies, benefit from his efforts.


Leaked Terminator Documents



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


In fact, "gene transfer to plants by diverse species of bacteria" is really old news, and old biotechnology.

Biotechnology includes genetic modification of food, gene therapy, stem cell therapy, vaccine development and the like. Biotech is expensive, because the rights to access information cost a lot - and the rights to use the patented technologies cost even more.

Currently, most scientific knowledge is owned privately by international corporations under copyright or as Intellectual Property Rights.

Making scientific information Open Source brings scientific knowledge into the public domain, or as Wilbanks tells it, into the "commons."

I believe in protecting the commons, Open Access and Open Source, yet somehow I cannot get the image of a Trojan Horse out of my head. The timing is suspicious - Canada intends to overturn an international moratorium on Terminator GM sterilization technology at a UN meeting in Bangkok this week - and to "block consensus" on any other option.

So is BIOS's new Open Source website a controlled trade-off, or straight-up good news? ...I don't know.




Related News Links:
www.atsnn.com

[edit on 10-2-2005 by soficrow]

[edit on 12-2-2005 by soficrow]




posted on Feb, 10 2005 @ 12:57 PM
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Need a quick primer? Go here:

What is Open Source Biotechnology?



U.S. BioDefense to Launch Open Source Platform for Rapid Stem Cell Research and Development




U.S. BioDefense, Inc. (OTCBB:UBDF) announced today that it is developing an Open Source Stem Cell Research Platform to leverage the distributed power of open source development. The Open Source Stem Cell Research Platform will allow researchers at universities, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies to read, distribute, modify and contribute to stem cell and biotechnology research in an efficient and streamlined method. The platform, which can be used as an Intranet or online, will provide access to bioinformatic tools and serve as a robust utility for the rapid evolution of Stem Cell technology research, development, and commercialization.

Rapid Stem Cell Open Source




Also see: Open source plant biotech for all


Anyone else see a pattern emerging? Like maybe Open Source got the go-ahead as a trade-off - to kill plans for international controls and bio-tech regulations?



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posted on Feb, 10 2005 @ 01:30 PM
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Biotechnology can lead in many different directions. Here is a quick profile of one application area, used in combination with other technologies:




2005 - New micro-robots called microbots grow their own muscles from living animals. The microbots are grown on silicon chips, using the same principles and similar technologies as those used to make integrated circuits. "I can make hundreds of thousands as easily as I can make one," says nanotechnologist Carlo Montemagno. Blending biological and mechanical parts with phenomenal precision, microbots are a fully integrated system, blurring the lines between men and machines.

The New Military: Microbots


2000 - "One of the projects DARPA is currently supporting is work by a team at Michigan State University's College of Engineering, who are developing reconfigurable micro-robots for use in military, intelligence and law enforcement ...."

DARPA Works to Replace Soldiers, Police with Robots


2005 - "Scientists at the University of California Los Angeles have successfully bonded flesh to silicon to create what they claim is world's first muscled robot. ..."They have a maximum moving speed of 40 micrometres per second and can work for more than four hours, although not continuously." "

It needs your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle


Also see:

The Talon Robot: Ready for Iraq

Fly-eating Robot Powers Itself

The New Military: Robots with Human DNA


So just put everything all together - AI, self-powered microbots, breeding robots - and all the other latest innovations...



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posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 10:54 PM
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Good story soficrow, just have a little nitpick. An Innovation is something that has survived the markets to become commonplace. All the technologies you mentioned are Inventions hope you see the distinction



posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 11:24 PM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
Good story soficrow, just have a little nitpick. An Innovation is something that has survived the markets to become commonplace. All the technologies you mentioned are Inventions hope you see the distinction



Thanks sardion and [blush] ...But actually, I do think some are innovations - many were modified from the 'games' market and picked up by the military (like with that little company in Glasgow, not sure which ref it is).

BTW - did you see the New Military research thread?



posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 11:26 PM
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Yup I saw it I think I'll contribute. Was actually at this moment composing a reply. Heh. Is it in the research forum or is it just a regular thread?



posted on Feb, 12 2005 @ 11:33 PM
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Originally posted by sardion2000
Yup I saw it I think I'll contribute. Was actually at this moment composing a reply. Heh. Is it in the research forum or is it just a regular thread?



Research - you wanna be on the team?



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