When Speed Truly Matters, Openness is the Answer

Antonio Marturano


In this paper I analyse the ethical implications of the two main competing methodologies in genomic research

I do not aim to provide another contribution from the mainstream legal and public policy perspective; rather I offer a novel approach in which I analyse and describe the patent-and-publish regime (the proprietary regime) led by biologist J. Craig Venter and the “open-source” methodologies led by biotechnology Nobel laureate John Sulston.

The “open-source methodologies” arose in biotechnology as an alternative to the patent-and-publish regime in the wake of the explosion in computer technology. Indeed, the tremendous increase in computer technology has generated a corresponding increase in the pace of genomics research.

I conclude this paper by arguing that while the patent-and-publish method is a transactional method based on the exchange of extrinsic goods (patents in exchange for research funds), the free and open-source methodology (FLOSS) is a transformational method based on a visionary ideal of science, which leads to prioritizing intrinsic goods in scientific research over extrinsic goods.