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Abstract Detail

Systematics Section

Motley, Timothy J. [1].

Your paper is published; do you know who owns your DNA?

Recently doing a search for sequence data on GenBank I was alerted to the fact that sequences I had posted years ago were now patented by a prominent biotechnology company. This brought to my attention that products made naturally were being patented. The problem is that many of the plants in my studies were collected in foreign countries under permits issued to me based on the agreement that the material I was collecting and exporting was “for scientific study only and not to be used for profit.” Concerned over adhering to my agreement, I contacted NCBI to see if anyone else had raised this issue. The response was the disclaimer on the site that includes: “Therefore, NCBI itself places no restrictions on the use or distribution of the data contained therein. Nor do we accept data when the submitter has requested restrictions on reuse or redistribution.” Similar, GenBank data harvested by a very well known biologist/businessman from collections and sequences of ocean organisms surrounding the Galapagos Islands has derailed numerous scientists (including myself) systematic and evolutionary studies on the archipelago and nullified MOUs and permits in Ecuador. Despite this “ground breaking” project being heralded in Science, many “small scale” scientists’ projects were left in the wake of repercussions from the random oceanic collecting and subsequent patents. At the end of March, 2010 U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet ruled against patenting genes because "isolated DNA is not markedly different from native DNA as it exists in nature." However, this ruling will be appealed. If the use of phylogenetic and bar-coding data and the harvesting of DNA sequence data for patents are allowed, the molecular systematics and evolutionary studies and international fieldwork will suffer. This talk will highlight some recent events and issues facing us with regards to patents.

Broader Impacts:
Patents of natural occuring materials like DNA sequence data. Vilation of collection permits. Ethical use of data.

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1 - Old Dominion University, Department of Biological Sciences, 110 Mills Godwin Building/45th St, Norfolk, VA, 23529-0266, USA

DNA patents
International collecting rules
legal issues

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 38
Location: 555A/Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Time: 4:45 PM
Number: 38015
Abstract ID:423

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