Open Source GM Crops?

Gina Miller writes "Genetically-modified crops spotlight issues of safety, openness, and intellectual property that will become even more important with molecular nanotechnology. Some similar concerns are reflected in the Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology.

UK report says gene crops could create superweed. Cross-pollination of seeds spilt during harvest allowed three varieties of genetically modified rapeseed plants to exchange herbicide resistance genes, creating a "superweed" resistant to all three herbicides. To avoid these superweeds that would be difficult to eliminate, the recommendation is that only one variety of herbicide resistance be used in genetically modified plants.

Panel Urges U.S. to Tighten Approval of Gene-Altered Crops. The caution recommended by the UK panel was reflected by a panel convened by the US National Academy of Sciences. Noting that biotechnology companies are developing new plants containing combinations of genes, or genes that cause the plant to produce industrial chemicals or other exotic materials, the panel concluded that testing of genetically altered plants should be made "significantly more transparent and rigorous." The panel's conclusion implies that public access to data should take precedence over the ability of companies to keep data confidential.

Can a company still profit from data it releases to the public? Swiss Firm Unveils Plan for Sharing Rice Genome One company poised to publish a "draft" (not completely finished) sequence for the genome of a variety of rice announced a compromise in which the company 'would freely share the information with researchers, but keep the right to license and patent commercial developments'. Other companies preparing sequences of other varieties of rice have promised completely free access to the information. How access to scientific information developed by for-profit entities will be handled is clearly an issue very much in flux: from open source software to biotechnology and gene patents. What will be the trade-offs as nanotechnology matures?"

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