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Google Accused of Bio-piracy 248

Posted by Zonk
from the ahoy-maties-turn-over-those-ribonucleic-acids-if-you-please dept.
Simon Phillips writes "ZDNet is reporting that Google has been accused of being the 'biggest threat to genetic privacy' this year for its plan to create a searchable database of genetic information. From the article: 'Google was presented with an award as part of the Captain Hook Awards for Biopiracy in Curitiba, Brazil, this week. The organisers allege that Google's collaboration with genomic research institute J. Craig Venter to create a searchable online database of all the genes on the planet is a clear example of biopiracy.'"
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Google Accused of Bio-piracy

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  • by Mattygfunk1 (596840) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:57AM (#15025955)
    Gnetics?
  • Torrents. (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:57AM (#15025958) Homepage Journal
    OK, if theres piracy going on, wheres the torrent stream?

  • Stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tpgp (48001) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:58AM (#15025962) Homepage
    From the about the award [captainhookawards.org] pages:
    Biopiracy refers to the monopolization of genetic resources such as seeds and genes taken from the peoples or farming communities that have nurtured those resources. It also refers to the theft of traditional knowledge from those cultures.
    And the page explaining why Google was nominated. [captainhookawards.org]

    Nonetheless a recent internal video released from the Googleplex shows that the company are still very actively pursuing the goal of putting genomic information online for free.
    So. Google is monopolizing genetic resources by putting genetic information online for free?

    There are much better things to go after google for if you don't like them (*cough*censorhip*in*China*France*Germany*US*Unwar rented*Patents*cough) and far better companies to go after for biopiracy (What a stupid term).

    The monopolization of genetic information is a serious issue - people are trying to do stupid things - like attempting to apply copy protection measures (both physical and legal) to life. Life attempts to copy itself & tradional copyright / patent laws should not apply.

    Unfortunately, these awards look like shameless self-promotion rather then a serious attempt to tackle the problem.
    • by schon (31600) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:02AM (#15025989)
      Google is monopolizing genetic resources by putting genetic information online for free?

      Sounds to me like these guys are a bunch of kooks who are attacking any large company who uses the words "genetic" and "database" in the same sentence.

      Google is one of the biggest, so they automatically attack.
      • by networkBoy (774728) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:10AM (#15026047) Homepage Journal
        Best explanation I could think of as well.
        I read this and said WTF?
        then I read teh story and said WTF?
        then I read your comment and said Ahhh!
        -nB
        • Yeah... genes shouldn't be private things (copyrighted by corporations), but I don't think they have to be hidden things (unresearched and unpublished). Google wants to make a public database. what's wrong with that? What's wrong with _any_ public proliferation of information about what's inside our bodies (speaking generically, I wouldn't want *my* exact genes being pubilshed next to my name and SSN)?
          • As far as I'm concerned you could do that to me (aside from the SSN for other reasons).
            I would kinda like to be "the genome guy"
          • by masklinn (823351)

            Actually, genes are not copyrighted. You can patent genes though, even if there's allegely a prior art of a billion years, and you don't even need to create new genes to patent them, you merely need to "discover" them.

      • I think they definitely attacked Google on this for publicity purposes, after all we wouldn't be discussing "biopiracy" if Google hadn't won. But if you review their list, most of their claims of biopiracy seem pretty valid. They're referring to companies and individuals commiting legal acts of piracy: taking genetic material, in some cases cultivated for thousands of years by indigenous peoples, and claiming it for their own. It turns the piracy model of copyright infringement on its head and accuses the r
    • DRM my ass (Score:2, Funny)

      by Karoshi (241344)
      One day, I won't be allowed to take a dump 'cause I forgot to renew the license to use my biological disposal unit.
      • by TopShelf (92521)
        Leaving a dump in the can is fine, but I would think that taking someone else's dump would clearly be biopiracy...
    • I suspect that they're associating Google with "piracy" because of the "theft of traditional knowledge" part of things. The question is, in how many of those cases did Google actually "steal" any of that knowledge? Isn't it more likely that Google is just making public knowledge that someone else has already "stolen"? In which case the award is not for Google having "stolen" the information, but rather for Google making public the results of the "theft" ? Would it really be better if the people who "st
      • Re:Aaargghhh! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shawb (16347)
        I can see the logic behind the people that handed out the award. Google sort of automates part of the process of finding useful genes in the huge database. By doing this, they indeed allow some companies access to information that could lead to a patent based on this genetic information. Where the argument has any teeth at all is the fact that putting this info online does nothing for the native people from whom the information was originally taken. Most of these people 1)have no computer or internet ac
        • I can see some sort of process behind the selection of Google, but to call it logic seems unreasonably generous.

          They're criticizing anything that has to do with obtaining biological knowledge from different environments. For example, they criticize Venter from having expiditions send him seawater samples, almost exclusively from international waters. That's it. He's taking seawater samples, and somehow this is piracy? Nobody owns the water, or the organisms in the water, or the genes in the organisms in
          • Sorry, I forgot to include my own view on the issue. I was just saying that I could see where they are coming from. It's just that a lot of the links they have are blown way out of proportion. Most of the protest types I know are extremely reactionary and do not think through the situation entirely before they act.

            example: many activists I talked to have said they would be excited to go on a mission to free animals from a testing facility, even without knowing what they were being tested for. This ki
        • Re:Aaargghhh! (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lars Arvestad (5049)
          From what I have heard and read (and now checked at Venter's own instutute's web site [venterinstitute.org]) his group is actually only sampling the oceans for microbial DNA. They have a nice sailboat and make no secret of where they are going.

          This makes the whole assertion even more stupid, since no country/ethnic group/publicity-seeking self-proclaimed human-rights experts can claim to own or control or have rights to that pool of DNA.

          It is a very odd stunt indeed. But I guess there is an appreciating audience for this stu

    • ......people are trying to do stupid things.....

      I just patented a molecule. I has two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. It has been known in the past as "water". Anyone who uses it in any form owes me royalties. I also have a patent pending on unique arrangements of protons, neutrons and electrons in 92 distinct groupings. I expect to get a patent soon and then collect money from everybody for EVERYTHING that uses any of these.
      • Re:Stupid. (Score:4, Funny)

        by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:34AM (#15026216)
        I think I already own that patent. Dihydromonoxysomething or other. I don't know what it's called, my lawyer told me to do it.
      • I have a patent on a process by which molecules make copies of themselves, using their own structure as a template. Various complicated helper chemicals are used, and the bluprints for creating them is also encoded in the original molecule. I call this process "life." We will provide a service by which our jack-booted thugs will confiscate said patented process from any persons found to be not paying the full royalties. Thank you, and get the door.
    • Re:Stupid. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:51AM (#15026367) Journal
      Note the second sentence you quoted: "It also refers to the theft of traditional knowledge from those cultures."

      "Theft of knowledge" is, of course, a term which refers to "intellectual property", except that here obvioulsy a "collective IP" held by a culture is assumed. Google is obviously accused for violating this second part.

      But independent of what one may think about the concepts of IP in general, and of the concept of IP held by a culture in particular, there's a nice contradiction in the very definition:

      The first sentence states that monopolization of that knowledge is bad. The second one states that not granting a monopoly to those cultures is bad.

      In short, the term "biopiracy" is ill-defined.
      • Re:Stupid. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Theatetus (521747) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:54PM (#15026953) Journal
        The first sentence states that monopolization of that knowledge is bad. The second one states that not granting a monopoly to those cultures is bad.

        I didn't read that as what he was saying. It looked more like he was attacking Monsanto, ADM, et al for going to a country like Mexico, taking samples of the corn people have been planting there for centuries, patenting those seeds, and then suing the farmers for doing what they have been doing for hundreds of years to force them to buy GM seeds that they can't replant. He's not saying the Mexican farmers should be the only ones using those seeds. He's saying agritech companies shouldn't be able to sue them for continuing to use those seeds just because the company got an absurd patent on centuries-old technology.

        Think Microsoft, RIAA, SCO, MPAA, etc. are evil? What happens to our bits is nothing compared to what's happening to our food... [thefutureoffood.com]

    • Unfortunately, for all Google's talk of being Open-Source/Free Software friendly, they either don't get, or, more likely, don't WANT to get, the need for openness of data formats. Google Video puts videos "online", and makes them searchable. However, if you can't cut up that video and use it in your own videoblog or cable tv show or artistic video montage, then it's really not "available" to you or to the online culture to build on. It might as well be playing behind glass in a shop window, even if you d
      • Wanna bet? It takes a pair of seconds to grab the FLV file that's read by the Google Player, and a run of mencoder to convert the FLV to anything else.

        The quality kind-of blows and is even worse post-conversion, but it's more than doable. Hell, it's easy to do.

    • Re:Stupid. (Score:5, Informative)

      by antarctican (301636) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:07PM (#15026500) Homepage
      So. Google is monopolizing genetic resources by putting genetic information online for free?

      I was thinking the same thing. If Google is putting this information online for all to use in research, how is that a bad thing?

      As a computer scientist who has been working in bioinformatics for over 3 years now, I've been calling for the "googlification" of genomics information ever since I discovered what a mess the community really is. You would not believe how many different databases, with different indexing systems there are out there. To actually do any useful research you first have to spend a month or two trying to make the pieces of data fit together.

      Our lab, and many other labs, actually have entire projects dedicated to finding ways to piece these disjoint datasets together for effective quering. This is a huge under-addressed problem in genomics.

      And genomic data goes far beyond just the human genome, that's only one small part. If someone could organize all the genomic formation across all the hundreds of genomes which have been sequenced, it would be a very very useful tool. The other half of the problem in genomics databases is half of them are NOT free and available for researchers without paying licensing fees. And to me, a far better use of research dollars is on actual research rather then paying licensing fees for data which was probably originally discovered with public research dollars to begin with. So if Google can open up all this sequence information, and more importantly the related information downstream from just the raw sequences such as pathway information, all the more power to them!

      The truth is most genomes ARE already available through sites like NCBI, you can download hundreds of eukaryotic, prokaryotic, and fungi genomes freely already. You can already find similarities between sequences across species through tools such as BLAST, or find orthologs across species with tools such as Ortholuge. I would assume what Google is doing is creating a better way to organize this. And Dr. Venter is already known for trying to find as many diverse genomic sequences as he can, and usually not human ones.

      This definitely seems to be panic over nothing, over something which could help genomic research a lot, and ultimately find better ways to protect humans against the nasty bugs out there.

      I for one welcome our new Google overlords.
      • Re:Stupid. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by shawb (16347)
        If Google is putting this information online for all to use in research, how is that a bad thing?

        It's a bad thing... let me rephrase that... It's a process which has potentially negative consequences to some, because the people who are using these cures in a traditional manner do not have access to a computer with internet access. They do not have access to the resources of a genetics lab. They simply do not have the ability to utilize this information. Some company researching the topic may use info
        • It's a bad thing... let me rephrase that... It's a process which has potentially negative consequences to some, because the people who are using these cures in a traditional manner do not have access to a computer with internet access. They do not have access to the resources of a genetics lab. They simply do not have the ability to utilize this information. Some company researching the topic may use information they gathered from google to patent a compound, and then later may force the natives using the c
    • Maybe god is trying to file a patent infringement case to stop humans from mucking around with DNA.
    • These guys are probably funded by companies who want to have exclusive access to this information so they can do research and get patents for those results.
  • Bio-piracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Uber Banker (655221) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:59AM (#15025970)
    I can understand the meaning of pirate as in someone who sails the seas and acts in piracy - stealing others' belongs by force.

    I recognise the notion of piracy as in copying material which has been copyrighted, conducted by a 'pirate'. But I prefer the term copyright infringement.

    But what the heck is 'Bio-piracy'? Because privacy and piracy sound vaguely familiar isn't reason enough, IMHO. Naming the awards 'the Captain Hook awards' seems even more facetious.

    From TFA, "Google, in cooperation with Craig Venter, are developing plans to make all of our genomes Googlable to facilitate the brave new world of private genetically-tailored medicines" does not equal piracy, IMHO.

    And to tackle their argument, they have not outlined why genetically tailored medicines are bad, not why holding them in private hands is wrong. And private means exactly what? The copyright to GNU/Linux is held in private hands. And Google giving public access to work done by the human genome sequence project seems a lot better than letting all research in the hands of a very small amount of drug companies, those that are most interested in profiting from keeping information 'secret'.
    • In present usage, content controllers apply the term "pirate" to anyone who copies or makes available the content that they wish to control. They can't use the term "theft" since that implies tangible property. Likewise, copyright infringement doesn't cover the fair use and media conversion cases that the content controllers also wish to eliminate. So pirates seems to be the term we are stuck with.
    • Give me my genes back ! Thief ! Pir...flblbl (reduced as a soup of cells)
    • by RevDobbs (313888) *

      No worries, dude, everyone knows that Ninjas are Pirate's natural enemies, and those Code Ninjas at Google are top notch.

    • But what the heck is 'Bio-piracy'? Because privacy and piracy sound vaguely familiar isn't reason enough, IMHO. Naming the awards 'the Captain Hook awards' seems even more facetious.

      Avast there! Hand over your tissue samples, you scurvy lubbers! Yeargh! This one seems a fine, strapping specimen! Take her ovaries, Maties!

      Biopiracy makes no sense. Genes are genes -- you can take the essential building blocks of them and mix and match them to your heart's content. The number of combinations available is st

    • by kusanagi374 (776658) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:00PM (#15026438)
      Quite simple. Because those genes are taken from natively Brazilian plants and animals, used abroad for research then patented. So, if a local small industry decides they want to use that plant for something (a native plant) they must pay royalties to a corporation from a FOREIGN COUNTRY, usually a country where such plants/animals don't exist.

      That's what they classify as bio-piracy. Steal native elements from a country and patent them as a property of your corporation, then sell it back to that very country or charge for royalties.
      • But Google doesn't patent that material. It only creates a database of what is known.
      • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @01:05PM (#15027064) Homepage
        Why use the word "steal" here, though? Are these organisms being smuggled out of the country, or at they being legitimately and legally removed for study? If the latter, anyone accusing them of theft (or piracy) is just rabble-rousing. There may be some legitimate cause for concern regarding local economies, here, but neither piracy nor theft is occurring. And tarring Google with this is doubly asinine.
      • My only issue with this position is this:

        Plant "A" sits in country "B" forever.

        Because they can't make a profit off of it, BigEvilCo doesn't spend a dime finding out plant "A"'s benefits.

        As a result, people in country "B" have no need to pay for the plant, because they still think it is a useless weed. So they die, or are obese, or go blind, because they were so bloody careful about protecting "their" property that no one wanted to develop it in the first place.

        ---
        I agree that BigEvilCo is being slimy and
      • Because those genes are taken from natively Brazilian plants and animals

        Most likely exported legally, from the laws of that country.

        So, if a local small industry decides they want to use that plant for something (a native plant) they must pay royalties

        Well small local industries are usually not worth the time/money to sue. And if they did use a local native plant with traditional applications there is always prior art. I don't much like drug patents. But going against them because 'it was deve
  • Avast! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GundamFan (848341)
    Biopiracy? doesn't that imply theft? how are they getting this genetic material? O.o
  • I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:00AM (#15025980)
    The information is being put out for "free." (advertiser supported). But wouldn't this actually be a boon for research scientists? Better searches than BLAST maybe?
    • It sounds like an IP issue. They are claiming that Google is causing lost revenue to the people who would be selling this data, as best as I can tell. Piracy in the "Recipe for Beer" sense.

      -Rick
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:01AM (#15025984)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you are someone with the resources to even do anything with this type of information, you will most likely be able to obtain it through sources other than Google.
  • Wait a minute (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:04AM (#15026006)
    Are these guys worried about genes of individual people being searched, or privately owned, corperate made|discovered genes?

    If it is the latter, I don't see a problem.
    • Are these guys worried about genes of individual people being searched, or privately owned, corperate made|discovered genes? p. Some nations believe they can make more money (which of course will only be carefully spent on their people) by claiming ownership of the molecular strucure of anything living within their borders. If some plant is found to have even the slightest medical application, they wish to claim rights to the process. They wish to lcie3nse people to search for such plants - even if you ca
  • I don't understand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wetfeetl33t (935949) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:05AM (#15026009)
    Why is it that when a company makes information private, they are considered greedy and secretive, but when a company makes information freely accessible over the internet, they are considered pirates?
    • Correction: When a company makes secrets other than their own accessible over the internet, they are considered pirates.

      In the middle, you have the companies that make only their own secrets freely accessible over the internet. These companies are usually respected and easy to work with.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:05AM (#15026012)
    I guess they're after some Yarrr-NA.

    Ouch, sorry about that :)
  • by JoshDM (741866)
    We're gonna need the BioNinjas and BioZombies to come kick Google's @$$.
  • 1. gene sequences
    2. google
    3. big pharma
    4. profit!

    Except that genbank already does that for free.
    The ultimate gatekeeper of your genetic privacy is YOU. What isn't in the database can not be googled.
    • The ultimate gatekeeper of your genetic privacy is YOU. What isn't in the database can not be googled.

      "If you've ever used a penny, the government has your DNA. Why do you think they keep them in circulation?"

  • Riiiight, so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AEther141 (585834) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:08AM (#15026037)
    Making data publicly available at no charge is evil and advancing the privatisation of genetic data. That makes sense. Torvalds, Cox and Stallman must be evil for all that Free software. The Gutenberg Project must be pure evil for making all that literature publicly available - who knows what Evil Corporations(TM) might do with that information? Seems to me that this 'bio-piracy' malarkey is a thinly veiled primitivist agenda.
    • Stallman is a big supporter of attacking companies that do biopiracy.
      If you goto his Home Page [stallman.org] he has an article right next to the Boycott Harry Potter books article.
  • by fshalor (133678) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {rolahsf}> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:09AM (#15026038) Homepage Journal

    This made me spit out my coffee... Arrrrg!

    There's a balance between communication and proliferation. There really is.

    If a person is being tested for a degree on material, they shouldn't have access to the answers. But if a person is working in the field, they *should*. And if a person is curious, they probably should too.

    This is just taking it too far. There may be justifiable reasons why evil corperation X in country Z shouldn't have access to information Gamma, but what real difference will it make if they can google for it. There's a much greater chance of them screwing something up if they're evil than getting something right.

    Weight that against the 1000's of corperations/individuals/research groups also looking at information Gamma and doing something promising, and google is, on average, doing a good service.

    I have to google for facts that make our research institute run literally daily. Usually its simple stuff like " what the hell is bentonite and how much can we put in this beaker without breaking something." or "what the heck is this photoflo stuff. It works great for this demonstration experiment, but we can't find the bottle..." a short google later, and we have a home brew wetting agent made, in the tank, and making the flow over a glass edge laminar just as we wanted.

    Biopiracy? Please: Communication is a *vital* part of the scientific method. Shure, 1/1000 it might bite someone in the ass. But without modern communication pathways, we wouldn't have all these cool toys or long lives in which to buy more toys.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:24AM (#15026146)
      You run your research lab based on facts from Google?

      The first thing you learn, is the internet is not a reliable source of research information. Have fun on the day you do that google for how much bentonite to put into the beaker, and find out the paper you got it from on the internet was only a draft, not peer reviewed, and had a decimal point in the wrong place.
      • by fshalor (133678) <{ten.tsacmoc} {ta} {rolahsf}> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:18PM (#15026599) Homepage Journal
        This was a good response, thought you shouldn't have posted as AC. And the mod shouldn't have modded ya down.

        Why do /.'eans persist in attacking comments which aren't fully explained. I seem to be plauged with it.

        There is a *lot* of information you can get from reading any single article, website, response, etc. But any engineer worth his/her degree would *never* rely on one source. Even stuff you see in peer reviewed articles can be wrong. (I've seen it!)

        However, there is something to be learned even from the wrong article. Sure, I didn't go into this in my comment. I'm sorry I assumed that my point would come across without an explanation.

        An example:

        Looking up laser howtos the other day for revitalizing our laser lab. Was googleing for hints and docs about a few Spectra Physics argon ion lasers. (Series 2000 and a Stabilitte 2011). One of the first startup procedures I found for the 2000 was from a college graduate student physics lab. ... I couldn't believe they had the students cutting the power on before they had the cooling water flowing. (Even though it states clearly in the manual that the water should be checked before the power is turned on.)

        I had to ignore the startup (and shut down too, since that was even worse.) but the howto had one of the clearest tuning procedures I've seen for getting a dummy to safely align the laser.

        Should I condem google for providing me with a howto that could result in an incident if there was a water leak? No. I could only blame myself for being stupid.
  • I mean really though. If I were them I would be welcoming Google.

    Increased interest in a project such as the Genome project would help, correct? And what is there to steal really? And who is going to care... I highly doubt that the kind of people who would download part of the Genome project and the people who download movies illegal are anywhere near the same breed. Sometimes I think people are just picking on Google, hehe. Google is simply going for their mission statement I suppose... I think it would
  • by radiumhahn (631215) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:13AM (#15026067)
    There are billions of years of prior art. And the argument that know one would research them otherwise is crap to... First to market in the drug world is the driving force. Even if... does that mean people can patent translated segments of ancient languages if they read them first? These people should cram grapes in their noses!
  • by Drachasor (723880) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:16AM (#15026085)
    Huh...and I thought patenting genes (including ones the appear in MY body) was the real example of biopiracy.

    What Google is planning certainly isn't going to stifle innovation like gene patents will--for if lack of patents ever harmed research governments can and would supply funds for researchers.
  • by Theovon (109752) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:19AM (#15026113)
    Looks like one of the April fools stories slipped in a bit early.

    People leave their DNA and finger prints wherever they go, and the law is clear that whatever you leave behind is up for grabs. Where is the piracy in making an online searchable database of public-domain information?
  • It's not biopiracy! It's bioinfringement!

    --Rob

  • P.R. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stacybro (757940)
    This has got to be P.R. hooha. Somebody said: "How can we get some free P.R.? Lets attack somebody huge, pretend we are oppressed and maybe end up on slashdot..."
  • by DaoudaW (533025) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:29AM (#15026175)
    1. Biopiracy isn't primarily about the human genome.
    2. Information wants to be free.
    3. Indigenous populations have created/discovered many plant varieties useful for pharmaceuticals.
    4. Plant varieties found in indigenous agriculture often have disease resistance or other desirable characteristics which modern hybrids have lost.
    5. When someone has something of value from which you can profit, you should be willing to share the profit with them.

    ... from which many ethical and legal issues can and do arise.
    • You raise 5 important points, none of which have anything at all to do with the issue at hand.

      The Captain Hook people obviously have no understanding of biopiracy. By making genetic information freely available Google would take away the ability of the corporations gathering up the info to monopolize it for their own devious ends. On the other hand, any genetic info published in a peer-reviewed journal gets archived in a publicly accessible database like Genebank already, so Google isn't even doing anythi

  • TGFG (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:35AM (#15026223) Homepage
    Thank God For Google. They seem to be one of the few companies that actually gets the fact that information wants to be free. On top of which, it's just absolutely absurd that ANYONE other than God can get a patent on genetic sequences. It kind of reminds me of that old joke, "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first make an apple." Anyone who can do that deserves to get the patent for the genetic sequence of an apple.

    That's kind of like getting a patent for the number pi. That would actually be a good one. If you have the patent to the decimal sequence that makes up pi, you could really argue that you have a patent on everything, including every genetic sequence. Theoretically, pi will contain every conceivable sequence of digits somewhere in its infinitely long sequencey and thus, anything that can be encoded as a sequence of digits (movies, music, books, genes), can be found somewhere in pi. Therefore, the patent holder for pi is the patent holder for everything. QED.
    • > Thank God For Google. They seem to be one of the few companies that actually gets the fact that information wants to be free

      Fact? How is this a fact?

      It is expensive to collect data.
      It is expensive to convert data into information.
      People don't tend to like doing expensive things for free.

      Information is inanimate and doesn't want anything... to steal someone's sig "Information doesn't like to be anthropomorphized."

      The fact that information, of its own accord, doesn't try to hide doesn't mean it yearns
    • That's kind of like getting a patent for the number pi.

      That's a pretty good analogy. Certainly, any unique techniques invented to calculate various portions of the value of pi should be patentable, but the results itself? Come on. The same applies for decoding DNA. You got a method for determining a DNA sequence? Great! Patent it. But the actual sequence itself? Sorry, no.

      Taken to an extreme... suppose I invent a method that allows reading text from a book in the dark (aka flashlight under the b

  • From the Web page:

    Groups involved with the coalition include:

    IPBN - Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Network in Cusco, Peru
    SEARICE - South East Asia Regional Inititiaves in Community Empowerment Philippines
    ETC Group - Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration in Ottawa

    Is that the best this organization is bringing? Why is this even news? Can anyone create a catchy name for an award, put it on a web page, and this then becomes real news? For crying out loud, those fakers even spelled "I

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:36AM (#15026252)
    Evidently, somebody felt their future revenue stream being threatened by publication of this data - hence the 'piracy' tag. It seems little more than a cynical ploy to preserve the closed-for-profit model that has been the rule in most research lately.

    The Human Genome Project was a collaborative effort, largely funded by government and public sources. The agencies involved in the research, however, seem to have a vested interest in keeping the data private, even going so far as to patent genetic sequences (isn't there "prior art" for all of my DNA? I call them "parents"). Freely available information, while often valuable, has no resale value. Can this be the true cause of The "Coalition Against Biopiracy" issueing what seems more like a political slander campaign than a genuine warning of wrongdoing?

    Perhaps we should ask:

    IPBN - Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Network

    P.O. Box 567

    Cusco, Peru

    Phone: +51 84 24-5021

    email: ipbn@web.net

    SEARICE - South East Asia Regional Inititiaves in Community Empowerment

    Unit 331, Eagle Court Condominium

    26 Matalino Street, Central District

    Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

    Phone: (63 2) 433-7182, 433-2067

    Fax: (63 2) 922-6710

    email: searice@searice.org.ph

    web: http://www.searice.org.ph/ [searice.org.ph]

    ETC Group - Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration

    431 Gilmour St, Second Floor,

    Ottawa, ON Canada K2P 0R5

    Tel: 1(613)241-2267

    Fax: 1(613)241-2506

    email: etc@etcgroup.org

    web: http://www.etcgroup.org/ [etcgroup.org]

    • The agencies involved in the research, however, seem to have a vested interest in keeping the data private

      This is simply not true. Particpants in the Human Genome project were required to publish their sequence data in the public NCBI databases within a couple days of obtaining it. The folks at Celera (the private genome effort) initially kept a large portion of their data private, but later made all it public.
      • . . . Celera (the private genome effort) initially kept a large portion of their data private . . .

        Uh-huh. And what matter all of the patented genomic sequences if Google publishes them?

        Put another way . . . if all this data is already considered public domain, why the fuss about Google publishing it? Can you suggest a better motive than profit for such an activity, or is there a simpler explanation than greed?

        Occam's razor - for the best shave of your life, or your money back!

  • Basically, Venter -- whose a shameless self-promoter, but nonetheless well accomplished because he's well funded and hires good people -- had an idea that he'd travel the world taking DNA samples from everything in sight to capture a broad view of biodiversity at the genetic level. The idea is that by doing so that we'd better be able to categorize genes, describe their function and evolution, etc. There's more than a few problems with that, but in true Venter style, he'd cross that bridge when he came to i
  • In the spirit of these groups giving companies or agencies "report cards" or rating them on arbitrary lists of their choosing I hereby give the website an F. Maybe next time they can get a D+ it depends what letter grade appeals to me on that day.
  • Fake award staged, problem of "biopiracy" (as if that's even a word) invented in large conspiracy to make Slashdot's front page.
  • Laugh me off if you want, but I am willing to bet that billions - that's BILLIONS - of human beings wouldn't be around today had not other human beings wantonly and freely copied and spread their genetic codes.
  • Seriously they are blatantly publishing all kinds of gene information that our tax money has paid for. I mean what if the Canadians got their hands on all this precious data [nih.gov].

  • For those unaware, you can currently browse the genome libraries: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome/guide/human/re s ources.shtml [nih.gov]

    You can even do BLAST searches: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome/seq/BlastGen/Bl astGen.cgi?taxid=9606 [nih.gov]

    What will Google and Venter bring to this approach, I wonder? A faster search algorithm? I don't see how it could be more open, but it might be made more accessible--maybe. The genome is a complicated thing, and it probably requires the interpretation of scientific minds

  • If anything, google will take an already existing public resource and make it easier to digest and search. If anything, it will increase the ability for people to get their work done.
  • Slashdot really needs a way to moderate articles, so that when a mountain of readers can immediately see it's a bunch of crap, we can just kick it off the homepage and the people subscribing to the daily newsletter don't have to even sit through yet another dumb article.

    Give us the ability to kick nonsense like this off the front page!
  • by Dark Coder (66759) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @12:17PM (#15026585)
    What do all these searchable charts have in common?

    Periodic Table
    Protien Family
    Acidic/Alkalinity
    Ionization Excitement
    DNA strand markers

    All are tools in which we make our stepping stones into a better or worse life for us and others (not always in that order).

    If worsen quality of life can be had, then it becomes an issue of "scientific terrorism" and it should be controlled (however fluid it may be).

    If it improves the quality of our life, then it is "scientific knowledge."

    I'm ok with Bio-piracy of DNA until someone comes along and "worsen" things for humanity. Take "target DNA elimination" for example. Can anyone say bio-ethnic cleansing and getting rid of cancer-causing cells in the same sentence, yet?
  • It is a waste of time to address this seriously, this has to be an April Fool's day joke.

    I just hope I don't share any genes with those people.
  • by heatdeath (217147)
    I pirated my parents' genes.

    They should have used DRM.

    What a stupid article.
  • by xnot (824277)
    Google stole my brain cells! Er wait.... Google stole my genes! Er that's not it...

    (Honestly, will the media give up trying to find something wrong with Google already? I've heard of identity theft, but this is rediculus.)
  • We don't own genes. Despite what the patent office says, NO ONE owns them.

    How can creating a search engine be...

    Biopiracy refers to the "monopolisation of genetic resources" according to the show's organisers. It is also defined as the unauthorised use of biological resources by organisations such as corporations, universities and governments.

    According to their website:

    Google Inc.

    For teaming up with J. Craig Venter to create a searchable online database of all the genes on the planet so that individuals

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