15 February 2007

Bent Skovmand

The newspapers report this week on the death of plant scientist Bent Skovmand. Many of the accounts focus on his efforts to save plant species in the Doomsday Vault as part of a larger effort to ensure that the Earth has a sufficient seed bank for its future food needs. He really saw himself not just preserving the natural heritage of plant species but helping cure hunger.

But the part of his career that sticks with me is his fight against patenting genes. The NY times quotes him as describing this as being "like copyrighting each and every word in 'Hamlet' and saying no one can use any word without paying the author."

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