February 25, 2012

Patents in Science: the Paradox of Intellectual Property

In an age of forever branching scientific progress, medical research, and global communication, we are still far from ridding the world of pandemics, eradicating hunger, or making amends with a ravaged environment. Indeed, science has brought humanity unquestionable commodity (albeit unevenly) and control over the world, but this has also created new problems; an exponentially growing population stresses finite resources and the increasing life-expectancy makes way for late-onset diseases which could have never boasted such prevalence in a younger population.

Despite common concerns and apparent globalisation, the importance of patenting in ensuring economic benefits might seem to threaten a free flow of information within the scientific community and the public domain, thus delaying scientific progress and its potential benefits to society. Is this claim and control over progress justifiable when such sensitive issues such as human health are involved? Can science be owned?