In two weeks – April 19th – I’ll be at another conference in Melbourne, the World Congress of Science Journalists. At that congress, I’ll be producing a session about who benefits from science in a world where virtually every scientific discovery and platform is patented, and the elephant in the room: capability to use science. Phil Campbell, the editor of Nature (the magazine, not the phenomenon) will participate and we hope to expose the journalists to the realities of what’s happened as science becomes fragmented and owned. Few understand the world of patents, fewer still appreciate the profound impacts on our society.
Journalists need to engage in this issue fiercely. Why should the public care about science if the science is being privatized and sold to the highest bidder? There is little confidence or indeed evidence that the public sector is striving to ensure that public good emerges in the scrum for patenting and piecemeal rent-seeking from the very institutions they fund.
I’ll update this post as the panel develops, and this theme will recur in the blog.
The entire Biological Open Source movement is based on using the terms under which scientific inventions are shared to leverage greater public benefit. This benefit need not be only in ‘public projects’ but may also come from stimulating more open, competitive and fair private sector development, especially small-to-medium enterprise.