Money for old Nature…

“For the last century biotech has worked on a total of 450 biological targets for drugs, but genomics will provide a further 5,000 – that’s a huge opportunity. Biotech was classed with general technology stocks but the hype around the human genome project is warranted. We have been an erect species for 500,000 years but this is the first time we will have all the content our genetic information.” Erica Whittaker, European Biotechnology Analyst, Merrill Lynch

“However, from the 1970s onwards, scientific research throughout the western world has been beleagured by deeper issues. Until the 1970s scientists who received salaries directly from governments or from universities tended to keep their distance from industry. They felt that it would compromise their calling to apply their work for mere gain. There was haughtiness in this, but also a kind of saintliness…” Colin Tudge,  Science Writer

‘UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton have issued a joint statement calling for all raw data obtained on human genes to be "made freely available to scientists everywhere". The two leaders said that free access to the information could lead to cures for diseases around the world and "enhance the quality of life for all human kind". The announcement caused US biotechnology stocks to plunge on Tuesday, dragging other US shares lower as well. Scientists are currently racing to decode the entire sequence of human genes. ..The two groups met recently to try to agree a way in which all data would be made public, but the initiative ended in failure. Mr Blair and Mr Clinton's statement follows this acrimonious fall-out and is intended to put pressure on the private companies to release their data. But the two leaders stressed that companies should still be able to acquire patents for inventions derived from the raw data. It is also understood that no British legislation is planned to force companies to reveal data. The companies have claimed that without patent protection they cannot guarantee to earn back the money invested in the research in the first place. But their opponents say that patenting human genes is unethical, as they were not invented by the companies, just discovered…Later on Tuesday, President Clinton reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the genome "belongs to every member of the human race”…He urged companies to ensure that the profits of research were not measured in dollars but in the "betterment of human life".’ BBC News


Roll up, roll up – it’s the… Sale ov the Billennia!
Only one, just discovered, ‘ot off science’s press,
the one, the only one, yeeees - you’ve guessed it -
it’s ‘ere, it’s holy – it’s the one and oooooooonly, 


Get a piece of it - right here - right now!
Don’t be shy - don’t feel awed - well do,
but only as much as it tempts your wallet!
Step roigh’ up and grab yourself a bargain.
Took Nature four billennia to create, but…
we’re offerin it - roight ‘ere - roight naw -
roight ‘ere today, at a veeeeritable…SNIP!  

An already broken down into manageable sections
by the public sector – ha, ha, don’t we just laaaave
those boys. So no bother, no fuss, no main’enance - 
just looks loike a bunch o blimmin awdinary le’ers 
to the man in the street - but there’s no fooling you, 
gen’lemen - c’mon, y’know it’s a great investment. 

Register your patent - it doesn’t matter ‘ow - what for -
then Bob’s your uncle, bags of money, bound to ‘appen,
riches to make that Midas fella blush - buy anything, all
you ever wanted, an for the lady wife; or the new model!

ha, ha! And all provided free of charge, gratis, zilch, free
and for nuffin, by your kindly old mother……NATURE!
Gawd Bless ‘er - no, she ain’t dead yet, sir, but she is sick. 
Mark my words, sir - get in quick while you can, get a bit 

of it, stake your claim - it could be you, sir, just your bit
of the Genome whot ‘its the jackpot - think of the glory,
gents – food and cures, medicines, peace for all mankind,
well the paying kind anyhow… what are you waiting for?

Yup, four billion years to create, but coming to you today,
 right now, right here, give me your ‘end and it’s yours sir, 
at knockdown prices - who’d have thought it, eh - Roll up, 

roll up, only one previous owner - owganic Life itself –
yes gents, take off yer ‘ats; Gawd Save ‘er, Life - well, 
‘er and a few billion other creatures from awt the swamp,
the skoi en the forests en’ all that - who aw doid to ge’it 
to its present state, an ain’t that just someffin wanderfuw, 
innit beau-iful, gents - their sacrifice was not for nuffing,
gentlemen, doid in their squillions jast to ‘elp men profit;
brings a tear to your bleedin’ human oi, gents, dunnit…

Anyway, for wan day awnly in the ‘istory of the world,
everything must go - every gene, every last sequence - 
eyesight, reproduction, everyfing’s up for grabs, gents,
everyfing must go - the thumb, the tongue, hair, spoin - 
be the first to own the oiy – imagine telling yer friends
eh, aw manner of amazin organs sequenced right down 
to the last letter - all to go – and sambody’s got to get… 
the derriere - pardon moi French, gents – yeah, the bum,
the butt, the bahookie, gents; can’t sit down wivout ‘un, 
I always saiy, so down’t mock; maybe a be’er investment 
in the end than all those lovelies; breasts, gentlemen, legs. 
Everyffing is up for sale today - roll up, roll up, roll up…

An ‘oo cares if you dawn’t knaw wot this bit does, sir - 
the future, moi lad, that’s what you’ve got to think of -
we’re all going there; you can’t ever ger’off this bleedin’
rawndabout - if you’ve got the patent, you get the money, 
simple as that; it must do somefink or it wouldn’t be there,
so slap a patent on it, best prices available - take a gamble, 
wait and see - everyone’s a winner… and just for you sir - 
‘cos I loik your face - I’ll throw in a bundle of junk DNA,
free of charge. Oh, whot the ‘ell, free of charge wiv every 

purchase – an oim robbin meeself gents, ‘ardly feed me kids
now, what I’ll make – Whot’s that? – whot’s junk DNA, sir?
Well, they dunno wot it does, loik, but samfing I’ll warrant –
an it ain’t nuffin to do wiv ‘amburgers, or Turkey Twizzlers;
ain’t whot happens to you if ya keep eating aw that stuff, sir, 
nuffin smutty neiver. An a real talkin point anyway, sir; fink, 
samffing for the kids, the grandkids; their very very own piece 
ov the Human Genome - the 21st Century action - cu’in edge -

humani’y’s monument - imagine that - certificate up
on the mantelpiece – no need to jostle, gents, really -
there’s three billion bloody letters to sell today, plenty 
for everyone - roll, up, roll up - ‘av your wallets ready,
history is being made today, gents; an loads ov money. 

‘In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and other sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords , and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my father’s house into a market!”.’ John 1, 14-16, The Bible

‘An important lesson of the HGP has been the benefit of immediately releasing data from large-scale sequencing projects, as embodied in the  Bermuda principles. Some other large-scale data production projects have followed suit (such as those for full-length cDNAs and single-nucleotide polymorphisms), to the benefit of the scientific community. Scientific progress and public benefit will be maximized by early, open and continuing access to large data sets and by ensuring that excellent scientists are attracted to the task of producing more resources of this sort. For this system to continue to work, the producers of community-resource data sets have an obligation to make the results of their efforts rapidly available for free and unrestricted use by the scientific community, and resource users have an obligation to recognize and respect the important contribution made by the scientists who contribute their time and efforts to resource production.’ A Vision for the Future of Genomics Research, US National Human Genome Research Institute, 2003

‘How human geneticists in US view commercialization of the Human Genome Project - The Human Genome Project (HGP) has become highly controversial due to the entrance of commercial competition. Recent literature explores such concerns as patenting, secrecy, excessive duplication of efforts, and focus on profits rather than quality of research. To assess the opinions of human geneticists on these issues, we mailed questionnaires to the 3,632 scientist members of the American Society of Human Genetics residing in the U.S. We received 1,229 anonymously completed questionnaires that met our criteria for eligibility (only scientists who have at some point engaged in human genetics research). The relatively high response rate of 44% indicates that the issues are of interest to many researchers. We inquired whether respondents agreed or disagreed with various benefits and disadvantages of commercial competition with the HGP that have been discussed in recent articles. Overall, there is substantial agreement with benefits as well as disadvantages – (instruction was to check all that apply). Notably, 90% of the respondents see excessive patenting as a problem; this issue does not seem to be influenced by employment, as 86% of industry scientists agree with this view.’ Isaac Rabino, Nature, 2001

‘Exploiting the human genome is big business - Only the big dipper of internet stocks has given investors as many ups and downs as biotechnology. But whilst the biotech industry is older and wiser than the upstart start-ups on the net, the sequencing of the human genome means in many ways that the ride is just beginning…So away from the frantic rumouring of the biotech stock chat rooms, who is going to make money, and how? According to analysts, the safest bets are the hardware companies. Genetic analysis is not going to go away and so the people making the machinery have a long-term market. These include Affymetrix and PE Biosystems. But however rosy their outlook, hardware does not harbour the chance of the exponential growth that comes with a blockbuster drug. Deriving pharmaceuticals from the genome is far from straightforward, but there are plenty of companies trying. The industry giants such as Smithkline Beecham, Eli Lilly and Glaxo Wellcome are all there but it is the newer, smaller groups which are making the running. Genentech, Human Genome Sciences (HGS), Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals are among those trying to turn the rambling code of life into profitable treatments for disease. "HGS and Millennium already have drugs in the clinic," says Erica Whittaker. "And if they get a blockbuster product they are going to do very well”.’ Dr Damian Carrington, BBC News Online 

Money for Old Genome

Who wants to hang around waiting for these goody-two-shoes,
with their flowery stink of liberty - human rights - blah, blah -

inching along like snails, trailing their shining, sparkly goodness, 
tripping over it like pageless brides, blabbing on about humanity; 

that’s all very well, but tell me which company will develop drugs 
to help the suffering - that very sick humanity - if there’s no profit 

at the end? That’s how the world is, OK – you know it’s true. 
We must be sensible, it’s all very well believing in the honour 

of the tortoise, hey, didn’t we, the hare, certainly get the tortoise 
going? Hell, smoke was almost coming out of his shell! Sparks!

But let’s get practical here; this is science, not dreams,
not being nice – we are the ones who truly understand

how the real world works, how people will truly be helped;
because money talks, money speeds, dammit, money heals.

This is the United States of America: centre of the world. 
This is the real world - see, not how we wish it would be.  

Try explaining your grand morality to those who sit crying
at bedsides; see suffering, death our new drugs could stop -

without us, believe it - you’d better believe it - 
these drugs may never be, or limp and stumble

at the public hurdle, starved by the public sector poverty -
people will die because of your high and mighty principle. 

When a flower is sold

When a flower is sold, there is a kind of trafficking
of beauty, species slavery; filleting for commercial 

gain. The scent of her cut-throat head is the smell 
of death; her nectar dripping, gold pollen dusting, 

is now desperate - as if bees might come here indoors, 
penetrate glass; seed, by some other miracle, penetrate 

carpet down to destined earth, her flower children 
still grow. But the perishing of the bloom exposes 

this trade; the pilfered body of a flower is never truly 
owned, the human name of a cultivated rose is never 

its true name, as written in the endless books of Nature; 
her accounts. The processes, skills, hers alone, and free.

To look upon her work; observe, describe, classify, dissect, 
understand development, are not the marks of ownership –

as the flower dies, you see a man might just as well try to own 
a star - her hallmark is that of life - surrendering old molecules.

‘Although these principles have been generally realized in the case of genomic DNA sequencing, they have not been for many other types of community-resource projects (structural biology coordinates or gene expression data, for example). The development of effective systems for achieving the rapid release of data without restrictions and for providing continued widespread access to materials and research tools should be an integral component of the planning and development of new community resources. The scientific community should also develop incentives to support the voluntary release of such data before publication by individual investigators, by appropriately rewarding and protecting the interests of scientists who wish to share their data with the community in such a generous manner.’ A Vision for the Future of Genomics Research, US National Human Genome Research Institute, 2003

Self-winding mechanism

I wrap my arms around my own buried heart,
nested chest muscle; like a red bird fluttering,

taken fright at plunderers, body-robbers,
genome-snatchers, with no fitting sense 

of the sacred, untouchable; reaching with hands
transparent as water, through rib cage, warning 

colour, to the self-winding mechanism - evolved
cogs; like a grasping, avaricious wee clockmaker. 

US Biotechnology Industry - 
Market capitalisation 1994 - $94bn 1999 - $97bn 
Sales 1994 - $7bn 1999 - $13bn 
Employees 1994 - 97,000; 1999 - 153,000 
Companies 1994 – 1272; 1999 - 1283 
Figs, BBC 2000

‘There are more than 400 biotech drug products and vaccines currently in clinical trials targeting more than 200 diseases…. As of Dec. 31, 2005, there were 1,415 biotechnology companies in the United States, of which 329 were publicly held…Market capitalization, the total value of publicly traded biotech companies (U.S.) at market prices, was $410 billion as of Dec. 31, 2005…The biotechnology industry has mushroomed since 1992, with U.S. health-care biotech revenues increasing from $8 billion in 1992 to $50.7 billion in 2005…Biotechnology is one of the most research-intensive industries in the world. The U.S. biotech industry spent $19.8 billion on research and development in 2005…The top five biotech companies invested an average of $130,000 per employee in R&D in 2005…. Most biotechnology companies are young companies developing their first products and depend on investor capital for survival. Biotechnology attracted more than $20 billion in financing in 2005 and has raised more than $100 billion since 2000…The biosciences-including not just biotechnology but all life sciences activities-employed 1.2 million people in the United States in 2004 and generated an additional 5.8 million related jobs...The average annual wage of U.S. bioscience workers was $65,775 in 2004, more than $26,000 greater than the average private sector annual wage. Market Capitalisation – 1994: 45 billion dollars; 2005: 410 billion dollars.’ Bio, Biotechnology Industry Organization, 2005

‘…thus Cesar Milstein as late as the early 1970s omitted to patent his discovery of monoclonal antibodies, which have transformed all biotechnology, because he felt they should be used simply for the good of mankind. By the 1980s, however, particularly under the governments of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the attitude was reversed. Governments now felt that science ought to be seen to pay its way. Where government-based and university scientits in an earler, more innocent age had been expressly forbidden to profit from their endeavours, they were now encouraged to form industrial links, to create profits, and to feed those profits back into their institutions. For this reason, much research these days is done on ‘soft’ money (ad hoc grants from outsiders). Scientits who were once content to take their salaries and draw their research funds from their instutitions now typically spend several working days each month wirting applications for grants, often, thought not exclusively, from industry, to finance their work and sometimes their own slaries. About one in five or six of these applications succeeds…public spending has been reduced over the past two decades Overall, then, we may paint grand visions of the scientific future and see very clearly where various lines of research ought logically to lead, but what actually gets done is what people are prepared to pay for, and that, increasingly, is a matter of catching a sponsor’s eye. Science certainly progresses, but not so logically as is often supposed.’ Colin Tudge, Science Writer

Around art and artist, science and scientist,
grows thinking and machinery of business.

From managers, gurus, to full-time eyebrow shapers, 
water-carriers; that guy who opens doors, bottle tops,

without a name. All hustling for a piece of the action; 
wolf-eyed, parasitical beneficiaries – deadly, evolved. 

‘In between the hardware companies and the drug companies are the "software" companies - those firms who collect and start to interpret the data. Craig Venter's Celera Genomics is the most prominent of these - in February it raised $1bn in a day on the New York Stock Exchange. But Incyte and DoubleTwist are both creating commercial databases for sale to drug companies. One of the key things they can do to add value to the raw data is make preliminary identification of genes. This can be done by looking for the RNA molecules which genes copy their instructions on to, or, increasingly by using computer software which looks for DNA sequences that resemble known genes. The drug companies take up this information to determine which genes are implicated in which disease and are therefore biological targets. Even the field of gene therapy, much troubled by adverse publicity, has received welcome recent boosts with news of successes. The French-based company Aventis has said that it will have its first gene therapy product on the market by about 2004. But despite the apparent wide-open spaces of opportunity ahead, some analysts believe there will be a further shakeout in the biotechnology industry. For example, in Germany, lots of soft money has been pumped into start-up biotech companies, in the form of matching funds from the government. This has stimulated the creation of over 100 small companies. But many will run out of money before they are far enough forward with their research to float on the stock markets.’ Dr Damian Carrington, BBC News Online

We are the authors of ourselves

We are the prime authors of ourselves; 
whatever belief, void consists the root,  

curators of our communal heritage,
museums of existence, organic life.

We cannot be owned, broken up -
any more than Earth is real estate.

‘Madam, have you taken out a patent on that child?’

‘Madam, madam, excuse me, sorry to interrupt,
you don’t know me, but I was just wondering - 

have you taken out a patent on that child?
Thing is - I rather fancy making a copy - 

he’s jolly handsome - rather clever too, I believe; 
possessed of good manners, artistic, equanimious

temperament, but can run fast too - strong, athletic -
oh, yes, quite, quite perfect for what I have in mind;

how all children should be indeed - don’t you think?
So how about it, madam – or is he already patented?

If not, consider this an offer - I can pay, 
of course, generously; name your price.’
‘It seems genome announcements customarily come with a bit of a row attached - and so it is with rice. The Swiss-based Syngenta company publishes an analysis of how it cracked the code of the japonica subspecies of the plant in the journal Science this week, but the data themselves will not be going into the publicly searchable GenBank depository. Syngenta has refused to put its code in this international data pool because it wants to retain proprietorial control over the fruits of its hard work. Instead, the data will be dropped in an escrow account controlled by Science and any researchers wanting to mine the code for their own studies will be allowed to do so on a Syngenta website or CD-Rom - provided they accept certain conditions… It is a similar deal to the one Celera Genomics struck when it published details of its human DNA sequence in Science… "If we were to put our material in GenBank it would be available to our competitors as well as to academicians," a company spokeswoman said. "The academic community will have access through a CD-Rom... they will have to make a request via their university that they will use it for academic purposes and not commercial purposes." Of course, not everyone sees it like that. When rumours of the Syngenta deal first started circulating, about 20 prominent geneticists, including two Nobel Prize winners, wrote to Science to complain. Anything other than free and unrestricted access was damaging to the interests of science, they said. They believe the access arrangements will make it virtually impossible for scientists to do meaningful research on the japonica sequence. The agreement demands that any academic requiring more than 100,000 bases per day, per week must submit a letter signed by the researcher's institution to the company for approval first. This letter must state that the data will not be used for profit. Michael Ashburner, a geneticist at Cambridge University, UK, is scathing in his condemnation of the Syngenta deal."Offering you data in tiddly bits of 100 kb from a 400 Mb genome is stupid," he told BBC News Online. "If you want to know how many genes of a particular class are in the rice genome, you couldn't do it - not unless you sell your soul to Syngenta. Doing comparative genomics on the other cereals with this sequence is going to be very difficult. People, if they've got any sense, will either work on the indica sequence (from the Beijing Genomics Institute) or they'll wait for the public sequence to come out of Japan." Dr Ashburner said Science was being shortsighted and claimed rival journal Nature had now become the magazine of choice for researchers to make their genomic announcements. But Donald Kennedy, Science's editor-in-chief, said the journal had found a creative way to marry the conflicting interests of private investment and open research. "From my perspective, the question is whether the public benefit inherent in placing these valuable data into the public domain - rather than in trade-secret status - is greater than the cost associated with having the sequence data accessible through a private site rather than the publicly supported GenBank. "We thought that was clearly true for the human genome sequence. For rice, the most important agricultural commodity in the developing world, the case is surely even stronger." The indica sequence produced by the Beijing Genomics Institute and the University of Washington Genome Center has been put in GenBank.’ BBC News online, 2002

In my palm, six white rice bodies

In my palm, six white rice bodies, 
written by the first soul of grass - 

swimming early waters.
Such tough economy - 

singularly muscular, taut, compact,
under protective brown-paper husk.

Harvested from abundant flower- 
seed clusters, translated by time - 

her generosity has been cultivated,
ancient rice mother, grass daughter; 

her offspring become food, 
willing prime sustenance -

as plants can be generous to men,
without loss of face, or carnage - 

no wonder they shine, unwrapped
as a gift, polished from the bran -

their cloudy starch soul,
a simple physical halo –

departing, angelically, 
into the washing water.

Stealing rice from Nature’s own inventory

For all those smuggling our communal Genome
into private factories - to be scavenged, stripped 
of commercial commodities; broken up or sold -

then the theft of rice from Nature’s own inventory 
might seem a lesser crime; botanical not biological
crime - but such grand larceny might take the food

from starving children’s mouths, this crucial species
in the belly of the poor; with half the world’s people
depending on these compact grains as a staple diet -

the physical essence - white soul of rice - is free - 
in the palm of your hand, genes to feed everyone;
already so hallowed, enshrined in Nature’s library.

‘Of course, if we humans have fewer genes, maybe we should turn our attention away from pure gene companies. Just as the geneticists were telling us that most of the biological action is now likely to be in protein synthesis rather than in the genes, the analysts in the City were telling us to look instead at companies that produce antibodies - proteins that can be used to target disease at a molecular level. That puts good old British firms like Cambridge Antibody Technologies and Celltech back into the investor spotlight. CAT has a library of almost a trillion antibodies; Celltech is one of Europe's largest biotechs, with a good track record in discovering and developing new drugs. And it is not just the human genome either. The Salt Lake City-based gene discovery company Myriad Genetics has sequenced the entire rice genome. That earned it a tidy £37m from the agribusiness giant Syngenta. The only question now is how much Syngenta will earn over the years if it uses this gene information to develop super-rice.’ Declan Curry, BBC News 24


‘Super-rice’ - plump white obesity - 
her economy in ruins, her wing case 
husk obilterated - now ready-milled. 

Proud cereal queen, kneeling in chains, 
her royal sisters still free - the people’s;
but she is monstrous, enslaved - pitiful.

More and more seeds, more food,
she rains like snow; but her white
soul is traded, stolen just for profit.

‘Money from old (nucleic) rope - Research is expected to identify more than 5,000 biological targets that can be treated by new drugs. The business of genomics is wealth from health - making money by making life longer and better. Scientists and their financial backers are cracking open the rule book of human life to discover new treatments and cures for deadly diseases. Studying and manipulating genes in the fight against cancers and diseases like Alzheimer's is a £14bn a year industry, and it is set to grow substantially as people live longer, and genetic science lays bare illness that have defied treatment until now. The news that there are fewer genes in the human body than first thought doesn't throw the genomics industry into reverse, but it will keep some of the wilder predictions in check. If the body has fewer genes than anticipated, then fewer of the diseases that afflict us are likely to be caused by genetic defects; so the big drugs companies won't be able to use genetic science to fight these ailments. And if there are fewer genetic diseases and fewer genetic drugs, then genetic patents may not be so valuable - the drugs barons may not get as much back for the billions of pounds they've paid for the exclusive rights to individual genes and the information they hold. But even if one gene no longer equals one disease and one drug, there is still massive potential within those 30,000 human genes. The expansion in our medicine cabinets and in the drugs industry will be truly staggering. Just contrast the last 100 years with what we expect in the next 100. All the drugs discovered over the last century act on just 450 biological targets. In the next century, genomic research is expected to identify more than 5,000 biological targets that can be treated by new drugs. The companies that make their money from genetics break down into three groups. There are companies that try to discover the genetic code and then sell on their findings. Then there are companies that make the picks and shovels for this scientific research, making the scientific tools used in the geneticists in their labs. And there are the companies that make their money turning all this genetic information into drugs and medicines.’ Declan Curry, BBC News 24

What new drugs may come from different motives

What new drugs may come from different motives? 
Is the nature of a cure to alleviate suffering superior
to novel medicines cultured purely for private profit? 

Down in the molecules, among the energies,
do love and greed mark the physical – affect;
as the red soul of a poppy aches for junkies? 

The Genome spinning industry

Spinning industry, dependent technology,
the Genome has been wakened into light -

her exposed shining nature clashes
with the roots of business, money

culture, where everything has a price
before value; her source does not deal

with marketplace, brash crudities alien
to her being - at capture of her essence, 

scientists gather as wolves and sheep,
grey and white - beware the wolves -

howling of medicines, good of mankind; 
the Genome is mankind, not commodity. 

‘Theorists, including Darwin, who discussed conflicts of interest in the rest of nature constantly used images drawn from two particular human institutions – war and commerce. In that non-human context it was not too hard to remember that these were only metaphors. But when the discussion turned back to human affairs, it became much harder to be clear that these were not literal descriptions of human life, new truths about its characteristic motives and intentions, truths which showed that it could all be reduced to these two simple models. The drama shaped by those models was then projected back, in its turn, onto the whole cosmos, produding a picture of the universe in which commercial rivalry provided the key guiding principle for everything from ‘gas to genius’. Spencer and his followers thus saw competition as the all-explaining pattern both for human life and (somewhat casually, for they were not scientists) for the rest of nature. Darwin himself, always anxiously aware of the limits of our knowledge, carefully avoided these extensions.’ Mary Midgley, Science and Poetry, Routeledge, 2003

What a pack of fleas on the Genome

What a pack of fleas on the Genome,
appeared now - Midas Oscar-ghost 

of ourselves; swarming all over the gold,
living philospher’s stones - on the backs 

of scrabbling rats, hustling for scraps 
of Genome action - bringing disease,

missing her ancient grace
in such unprincipled rush; 

melting Miss World’s eyes for glass,
advertising the heart as patent pump;

drugs for money, reason one, not healing - 
cheap relief for such great global suffering.

She will shake off these parasites – 
absorb, mutate, alter, discard, graft; 

as she has always done through time,
protecting her species, their futures -

old lady continually reborn - 
but saving wisdom, learning, 

youth’s unbankable beauty -
in life’s perpetual incarnation. 

Note from the author
exploring the project

    The Human Genome Project
    – Public versus private
    Gene Patenting
        Designer Children
        Opinion Polls/Public
    Blood Poems
    Holy-Moley-More God!

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