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Re: UC Finalizes Pioneering Research Deal, archive 427



At 03:30 PM 11/25/98 +0930, Rick Roush wrote:
>After having read the whole article sent by Epstein, I am left wondering
>what all of the fuss was about.  For those of you who are not familiar with
>University administration, this is an excellent deal for the public. The
>work is about understanding plant genomes, which has broad utility for
>classical plant breeding, and is only tangentally related to transgenic
>crops.  It would be far more useful for "marker assisted selection", which
>is an application of molecular biology to classical breeding.  Most
>importantly, "unrestricted" is a key word in agreements of this type;
>Novartis has only the rights of first refusal to license patents.
>

Since Rick's comments ignore the big picture, here is a brief indication of
some of "what all the fuss was about." The main problem with the agreement
is that it represents the blatant commercialization of public education. If
a big chunk of the University of California at Berkeley is being made into
a subsidiary of a multinational corporation, what hope is there for other
universities? There are serious issues involved, such as academic freedom
and  the ability of universities to provide independent technological
evaluation to lawmakers and to the general public. Compromising those
important roles of the university  obviously has a negative impact on
public decision-making about genetic engineering, but it also damages the
university's ability to educate citizens so that they can fulfill their
responsibilities in a free society. I could elaborate at great length, but
I think most people are well aware of the iimportance of these issues.


Ron Epstein

Philosophy Department
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA 94132
415 338-3140


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