Feds want payback from parks research

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Feds want payback from parks research

Postby jonsdigs » Sep 28, 2006 7:35 pm

Feds want payback from parks research
Plan would see returns to parks from commercial application of discoveries found in reserves

By Cory Hatch
September 27, 2006

The National Park Service has proposed a plan to get a cut of the profits from research ventures in national parks that have led to the development of technologies like cancer drugs and DNA tests.

Called bioprospecting, researchers who practice this type of science often make use of microscopic organisms within national parks. One such group developed the technology now used throughout the world in DNA tests by cultivating microscopic organisms from geothermal features in Yellowstone.

To cash in on this market, the Park Service recently developed a plan that would ensure that parks like Yellowstone get a percentage of the profits once a technology is determined to be viable. An environmental impact statement is now available for public comment, with a final document expected out early next year.

National parks have become gold mines for biotech research because of their pristine locations and unique features, Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said. For instance, scientists once thought that life was impossible at the extreme temperatures in Yellowstone’s geothermal vents, and the micro-organisms that led to the DNA tests might have remained undiscovered without bioprospectors exploring the park.

“You’re looking at essentially taking a sample of something that is found to be uniquely here and then going back into a lab setting and analyzing that sample and seeing where that research leads you,â€
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