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    • Refreshing Honesty About Bank Loans
      I actually appreciate this, from the HSBC AM Global Head of Responsible Investing, Stuart Kirk: “At a big bank like ours, what do people think the average loan length is?” he asked. “It is six years. What happens to the planet in year seven is actually irrelevant to our loan book. For coal, what happens in year seven is actually irrelevant.” That’s honesty. […]
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Patenting Parts of People

The ACLU just started a lawsuit saying that patents of human genes are invalid. Specifically, it’s about two breast cancer genes, BRCA1 and 2, but the implications extend to the principle of the thing. And it’s about bloody time.

To understand the merits of the case, consider two parallel situations.

a) Someone removed a strip of skin from your forearm (surgically, with anesthesia, of course), carefully dissected out the different layers, labelled them, and filed the whole thing away in a scientific exhibit. Do they get a patent? No. You can’t patent something you didn’t invent.

b) Someone removed a microscopically small piece of skin from your forearm, carefully noted all the different components down to the molecules, labelled them, and filed the whole thing away. Do they get a patent? Yes. Apparently, so long as it’s invisible, you can patent things you didn’t invent.

At this point it seems quaint to insist that patenting life, so long as it’s in very small pieces, is wrong. We’ve grown inured to the travesty. It is, after all, a very lucrative travesty.
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