IP and global justice
More developments in biotechnology and genomics have become patentable during recent years. An example is the patenting of scientifically developed crops, while it is currently accepted to register DNA sequences and genes. The purpose of patents is to stimulate innovation by enabling a return on investment. But sometimes patents can also have a hampering effect. Registering a certain genome sequence in 'upgraded' crops can, for example, block further research into that crop or hinder applications in third world countries. Moreover, it is still questionable whether biotech patents are suitable and ethically acceptable for new developments in the life sciences, such as synthetic biology and various forms of ‘-omics’. Can you patent pieces of human DNA, thereby possibly obstructing life-saving research? Both the legal and ethical side of this dilemma will be discussed during this project.
Attention will also be given to possible alternatives to intellectual property, such as open source, whereby knowledge remains available to other parties. Valuable lessons can be learned by looking at various pioneering initiatives and comparing these with one another.
Start project: September 2009