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Showing posts from January, 2010

Should a company be allowed to hold a monopoly through a patent on crucial human genes?

Listening to On Point with Tom Ashbrook this morning, I heard a well-balanced, informative, and ethically (and more) challenging discussion about patents on human genes (audio available by 3 p.m. ET today) (you should go listen). While this is, in fact, a broader discussion, Ashbrook and his guests eloquently debated specifically the court case revolving around BRCA1 and BRCA 2 -- the genes for ovarian and breast cancer, whose patents are held by a single company, Myriad. First, a bit of background -- patents historically are limited to things man invents, not things man discovers. For example, as per the show, one cannot patent gravity, E=MC2, coal, or plants. -- however, farm corporations have been known to patent plant genes for food and other crops. The sidenote to this is that they actually hold the patent to genetically modified plant genes, not the natural one. -- Myriad holds the patent to both BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 as they happen naturally, in the human body. They have not genet

When does the end justify the means?

Last week, colors began appearing in people's Facebook statuses. I received several messages about it, some entreated me to join in and a few asked me what was going on. Most of the messages were the same coy message most other women -- and yes, just women, no men -- received. It begged that we, to paraphrase, titallate our fellow Facebook users, especially the guys, by posting our bra color without explanation. The concept, you see, was to raise awareness of breast cancer. Always a supporter of initiatives to benefit finding a cure for cancer, I decided to play my own way. I dropped the coy thing, but kept the playful element. When I saw people ask "what's up?" I was honest. Initially, okay once, I stuck to the original message. After that, I began sending out my own. I said, to paraphrase, that the idea was to "check your bra to remember to check your breasts -- self exams monthly!" The next day, I went in for my annual check-up and I tweeted th

How to Get It Right with Volunteers and Supporters by Playing the Volunteer Hokey Pokey

A while ago, I enthusiastically volunteered for a political candidate. I phone banked, sent letters and emails, wrote letters to the editor. . .tasks like that. Tasks I could juggle in to my life, all things considered. In my case, all things considered meant juggling my work and family life with my volunteering – and the campaign wasn’t my only pro bono cause. Work takes most of my day. My kids are very capable but still not truly independent. I have the day while they are at school, but evenings and weekends – when most volunteer events of any type I deal with, especially political, occur – I am flat out. There are kid sports, family events, house chores, family time, birthday parties and so forth every weekend. Evenings are chock full of homework, dinner, and bedtime. This is the same sort of life nearly any parent with school-aged kids leads. In addition to my own interests – such as political or health causes – there are also my family interests – such as school events, PTO,