Abstract
The introduction of open source in the life sciences is increasingly being suggested as an alternative to patenting. This is an alternative, however, that takes its shape at the intersection of the life sciences and informatics. Numerous examples can be identified wherein open source in the life sciences refers to access, sharing and collaboration as informatic practices. This includes open source as an experimental model and as a more sophisticated approach of genetic engineering. The first section discusses the greater flexibly in regard of patenting and the relationship to the introduction of open source in the life sciences. The main argument is that the ownership of knowledge in the life sciences should be reconsidered in the context of the centrality of DNA in informatic formats. This is illustrated by discussing a range of examples of open source models. The second part focuses on open source in synthetic biology as exemplary for the re-materialization of information into food, energy, medicine and so forth. The paper ends by raising the question whether another kind of alternative might be possible: one that looks at open source as a model for an alternative to the commodification of life that is understood as an attempt to comprehensively remove the restrictions from the usage of DNA in any of its formats
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DOI 10.1186/2195-7819-10-2
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