Popular Science

The genes of many marine creatures are patented—and one company owns half of them

Regulation is lagging behind industry.
the ocean

Who owns the ocean's genetic diversity?

From the tiniest microbe to the biggest whale, the ocean is teeming with life. For corporations and researchers, that biodiversity is a veritable gold mine of genetic potential—but in the unregulated environment of the high seas, those corporations may delve too deep.

“It’s kind of a treasure hunt,” says Robert Blasiak of Stockholm University’s Stockholm Resilience Centre. The search for genetic sequences that allow microbes to produce Omega 3 fatty acids or other beneficial compounds has been going on for 15 years now, he

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