50 Years Of Scientific Discovery & Sharing In Antarctica May End Thanks To Patent Greed

from the patents-against-peace dept

For the past 50 years, 47 countries have been a part of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, which was used to establish Antarctica as a peaceful science outpost where scientists from many nations could work together and share their discoveries. And it may now all be coming to an end. Why? Because (as Will Klein alerts us) all this discovery and sharing is going on mostly without patenting! This has greatly upset a bunch of companies who want to hoard any such discoveries and want to be able to patent "Antarctic organisms or molecules." Beyond the rather serious question of why either organisms or molecules can be patented, this is a microcosm of what's wrong with patents. Patents are supposed to be used to encourage research (promoting the progress, remember). And this treaty has done a great job promoting progress without patents. As the article notes, products already "derived from Antarctica include dietary supplements, anti-freeze proteins, anti-cancer drugs, enzymes and cosmetic creams." In other words, all of that happened mostly without patents. The only reason to break up this treaty, stop the sharing, and start allowing patents is to slow down the discovery, hoard the results and limit the progress to single companies who get a monopoly on that work.
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Filed Under: antartica, discovery, patents, science, sharing


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 6 Feb 2009 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: How fortunate that the article is objective...

    So, what is the point?

    Ahem:

    "governments are trying to end a dispute over a surge in company patents on life in the continent."

    and

    "The treaty says: "Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available."

    It's pretty clear that companies are putting pressure to change the terms of the treaty.

    As for MLS, why is it that every time you stop by to pass along an insult, you do so anonymously. I've asked you this in the past, but it really makes you look pretty cheap. Stand up and admit who you are if you're going to act like such a child all the time. You seem to take great pleasure in insulting people. Are you really so weak that you can't put your name on comments?

    While Lonnie and I disagree on plenty, he stands up for himself and signs everything under his name.

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