[This is a draft I stared a few months back, but never got around to finishing]
Oh the idiocy continues and forces me to dump a major rant onto the steaming pile of crap that is the interweb.
Are you alive? Maybe? Well then you may be violating a patent. (specifically patent WO2007047148, or the one mentioned in the title). Don’t worry about the artificial part, I’ll get to that.
I love the quote in the article linked to by Slashdot on the kerfuffle.
The idea of owning a species breaches “a societal boundary,” said Pat Mooney of the Ottawa, Canada-based ETC Group, which is asking the patent applicants to drop their claim. Creating and owning an organism, he added, means that “for the first time, God has competition.”
I don’t really care about the God part either, but the gaul of the people applying for these patents amazes me… Really it’s only second to the incredulity I have that someone allows these people to patent crap like this.
The engineer in me recognizes why you’d want to create the simplest form of life possible, it’s the genetic equivalent of a “Hello World” computer program (the simplest and first computer program just about everyone writes). But idea to patent said organism is insane.
It’s as if a carpenter decided to try and patent the nail, or better yet the hammer.
Any type of genetic work possible could be construed to be built off of this (and licensable… so you’d have to pay these bastards anytime you want to do anything in the genetics field).
Adding complications to this wouldn’t be hard. Since this organism is self replicating (by definition) would it have to pay royalties on itself?
You’d obviously have to pay them if you want to have any type of genetic work done upon yourself (the most commonly believed way to deliver any type of genetic modification is to use a virus or an artificially engineered virus to distribute the genes and genetic changes you want made into the host organism). Then since said changes would be passed to your children, presumably, but I wouldn’t put it past the drug companies to a) make it so said changes don’t get passed to your children so that they have to buy the same cure or b) make you license the cure for any children you may have, or worst case c) the cure would make you infertile until you could pay for a cure b that would allow you to pass on said cure a (ala licensing fees mentioned above)… or failing that buying a cure for disease A infects you with disease B… call it planned obsolescence.
Now some may say that that’s going to extremes, and to some extent it’s true, but 20 years ago who would have imagined patenting a living organism, or patenting parts of the human genome…
The reality is that all the legal bullshit is scaring away researchers from working on stuff that’s really important- mainly diseases and genetic mutations that are killing people. Lawyers and accountants are determining what drugs are being researched, and more importantly what drugs are being made. It appears that Death and Taxes may not be mutually exclusive.
Penicillin was discovered by accident, and developed into a drug during WW2. Now adays a company like phiser would license it and charge the army billions for a new wonder drug. In 1942 a dose of penicillin cost $20 but by 1946 they’d figured out how to reduce the cost to $0.55 a dose. But there hasn’t been a new Anti-biotic developed since the 70’s since it’s more profitable to create “treatments” as opposed to cures…. Add baby boomers trying to extend their cholestoeral clogged arteries and you see why the drug companies are pimping lipitor etc.