Human genome project (was Re: Why the future needs everyone!

From: Timothy Bates (
Date: Sun Mar 19 2000 - 18:32:04 MST

on 20/3/00 10:00 AM, Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> Look at this one guy who employs a handful of people and has
> his own supercomputer. He's beating the pants off of the government
> people in decoding the genome, and because the government hates being on
> the losing end, is now trying to socialize his results.

Point A: He is not beating the pants of "the government"
    Firstly, it is not the government, but a mixture of
    government, philanthropic, and pharmaceutical money.

    Secondly, "The government" have gotten about as far as
    Venter, arguably further, as PE Corp has a bunch of fragments
    which they _may_ assemble first, no one knows.

Point B: In my humble opinion Venter is being granted ownership to
information which is not for sale. I own it already. And so do you. I am not
selling. Therefore I do not want the government (who is trying via their
patent officers) to steal my ownership rights and give them to Craig Venter.

He is not patenting innovative medicine, or proteomic interventions, or even
_functional_ variants on the genome.

Instead, he has filed patents on thousands of _fragments_ of code. Raw code.

He hopes thereby to gain control of all of the above genuine innovations by
gaining monopoly ownership of human genetic variation simply on the basis
that PE Corp was the first (or often second) to read fragments of these
sequences. Simply to break the code into chunks and record the symbols in
these chunks. That is the claim-base.

I think this claim is nonsensical. If granted, it would retard genomic
investigation by decades.

[Stallman] declares he would prefer to use a free software program even if
it wasn't the best solution for his needs. Freedom, for Stallman, is a
fundamental moral good -- the freedom for computer users to share and
cooperate, to copy and change code as they please.

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