One corportation owns half of all patents for genes of marine species, new study finds
Companies located in 10 countries accounted for 98 per cent of all patents
single corporation owns nearly half of the existing patents associated with the genes of marine organisms, according to a new study.
BASF, the world’s largest chemical manufacturer, based in Germany, has registered 47 per cent of the 12,998 genetic sequences from 862 marine species. This genetic information has been heralded for its potential value beyond food — from medicine such as anti-cancer therapies to cosmetics, crop innovations and synthesizing biofuels.
And holders of gene patents have the sole right to decide how to research and create products. Those located in just 10 countries accounted for 98 per cent of all patents, the study found.
The two other major nations accumulating marine patents were the United States and Japan.
“By 2025, the global market for marine biotechnology is expected to reach $6.4 billion and span a broad range of commercial purposes for pharmaceutical, biofuel and chemical industries,” said Colette Wabnitz, coauthor and researcher with the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.
By creating a database of 38 million sequences based on publicly available records from Genbank at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers classified the information into three broad categories: companies, universities and others, such as government bodies, individuals or hospitals. algae, which is becoming more commonly used in cosmetics, at Technature company in Le Relecq-kerhuon, France.
Wabnitz pointed to one of BASF’S patent applications on algae sequences contributing to research on cultivating canola plants fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids. After years of development, the company is planning to “splice” the healthy acid
into the canola genome.that means canola would grow on land with Omega-3s and there’s a push to have it on the market by 2020, Wabnitz said.
Read more about establishing legal framework for marine genetics at thestar.com
Out of the burial site came individual vertebrae the size of small aircraft propellers and ribs longer than yard sticks. A landfill on the west coast of Vancouver Island was the site of a unique event where scientists and about a dozen volunteers recently exhumed the 10-metre long whale.
When the body of the young female washed up on Wickaninnish Beach at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in April 2015, officials had to act quickly: haul the marine mammal out to sea or save the skeleton by burying it at the local dump.
The decision was made to preserve the bones for science, and that’s how a filterfeeding cetacean, which can reach lengths of almost 15 metres and weigh up to 36 tonnes, ended up covered in dirt at the Alberni-clayoquot Regional District landfill in Ucluelet.
“It could have been towed offshore and just sunk and nature would have recycled it, and that’s fine,” said Gavin Hanke, curator of vertebrate zoology at the Royal British Columbia Museum. “But this specimen now is available for anyone to look at.”
Read more about the whales’ new home at thestar.com