ESRC Festival of Social Science:Genes and Gene Patenting: Is it Fair?
Past event 13.03.2006
SpeakersChair: Prof. John Bryant, University of ExeterDebaters: Mark Frank, Freelance Learning and Development Consultant, Stockbridge, HampshireWilson Wong, PhD Student in Economic Psychology, Exeter University, previously Development Policy Advisor at the National IT Council Secretariat, MalaysiaRosie Smith, Chemistry & Law Student, University of ExeterSue Greenall, Friends of the EarthWitnesses: Sheila Page, Overseas Development Institute, LondonDiana Sternfeld, Willoughby & Partners/Rouse & Co. International, Intellectual Property Advisory Committee, BioIndustry AssociationProf. Steve Hughes, Co-Director Egenis, University of Exeter
In today's global economy, plants from developing countries can be used to create new drugs and improved crops. Often not only these innovations but also the 'genes' that made them possible are 'protected' by patents. But what is the role of the patenting system in international trade? What exactly is a 'gene' patent? How are the benefits from using biological resources distributed? Is it fair?
As the World Trade Organisation considers the role that patent-like protection will play in the global trading system, this panel-audience debate with expert witnesses gave everyone a chance to find out more about international trade and development, and in the role of the latest genomic science in these areas.
The format of this information event followed the format of The Moral Maze (BBC Radio 4) with debaters cross-examining the witnesses. Then the audience put questions and opinions to the experts. Finally, the debaters summed up their position on 'Genes and Gene Patenting: Is it Fair?'