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Randall MayesRSS Feed of this column.

Randall Mayes is a policy analyst specializing in biotechnology. His areas of expertise include technology based economic development and public policy issues related to genomics, nanotechnology... Read More »


I must admit, before reading Massimo Pigliucci’s interesting article on Science 2.0, I was unaware of John Dupre’s so-called scholarship. My curiosity first led to Wikipedia which refers to him as a critic of evolutionary biology. With amazing tools such as Google and YouTube, I was able to watch Dupre debate Alex Rosenberg of Duke University, someone whom I had many exchanges with in his first philosophy of genomics class in 2004. After watching the video, in a matter of minutes it was apparent that Dupre is a philosopher, not an expert in evolution.  

Science Left Behind is about the corruption of science writing as a profession. Science writing has become politicized and unfortunately the consumer suffers. Personally, I find it painful to listen to or read a shallow analysis with a partisan slant on science related issues.

An ongoing legal battle regarding gene patents began in 2009 when the ACLU representing numerous clients sued Myriad Genetics and the USPTO. The dispute is over patents on two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, discovered in the 1990s which have a correlation to increased rates of breast and ovarian cancer.

The case subsequently went to the Federal Appeals Court that handles biotechnology patents, the Supreme Court, and was earlier this year remanded back to the Federal Appeals Court. On August 16, 2012 the Federal Appeals Court reaffirmed that gene patents are legal. So, why did the activists lose the legal battle?

For most of our lives; physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies have used paper medical records. They controlled the flow of data, but allowed patients and others access to their records.

Today, scientists are extremely careful in making sure they cite others’ works, if not for ethical reasons because plagiarism destroys reputations and is potentially a career ender. However, in the past for some scientists including Charles Darwin and James Watson, the public has controversially given them credit for game changing discoveries and catapulted them into rock star status.