Azara Blog: Craig Venter wants to patent a method to create synthetic organisms

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Date published: 2007/06/09

The BBC says:

Scientists working to build a life form from scratch have applied to patent the broad method they plan to use to create their "synthetic organism".

Dr Craig Venter, the man who led the private sector effort to sequence the human genome, has been working for years to create a man-made organism.

But constructing a primitive microbe from a kit of genes is a daunting task.

Dr Venter says, eventually, these life forms could be designed to make biofuels and absorb greenhouse gases.

The publication of the patent application has angered some environmentalists.

The Canada-based ETC group, which monitors developments in biotechnology, called on patent offices to reject applications on synthetic life forms.

The J Craig Venter Institute's US patent application claims exclusive ownership of a set of essential genes and a synthetic "free-living organism that can grow and replicate" made using those genes.

It has also filed an international application at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) which names more than 100 countries where the institute may seek monopoly patents.

Venter should be able to patent whole processes but not specific genes (unless he has invented a new gene, which he hasn't). And whatever patent he does get should not be ridiculously broad, which unfortunately many of them are these days. Courtesy of the American corporate world, patents have become nothing but an extortion racket over the last couple of decades.

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