Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity.” Louis Pasteur said that in 1876. Today it would be more accurate to say that science belongs to the corporations and investors that have the money, power, and savvy to secure patents and bring new developments to global markets, a change that threatens human and planetary health.
The pandemic and the cascade of other global public health crises, including the climate emergency, increasing deaths of despair, growing burdens of chronic diseases and mental health problems, and the increasing toll of occupational and environmental exposures, demand a new accounting of the costs of the corporate control of 21st C science & technology.
Here are just a few e.g.s of how corporate control of scientific discoveries jeopardizes global health:
1.The food industry’s use of new technologies to make ultra-processed foods, along with its focus on products high in sugar, salt, fats, and a brew of chemicals, flavourings, and stabilizers, has created a default global diet that contributes to making diet-related disease the leading cause of premature death and preventable illness around the world. The food industry favours these highly processed products because they are more profitable than the healthier diets under which humans had evolved.
2.Big pharmaceutical companies use new discoveries in biological and precision medicines to develop new drugs that generate huge profits even if they help only a small portion of those with cancer or other devastating diseases.
Unfortunately, other new technologies of the next few decades — artificial intelligence, precision agriculture, and the development of new medical devices and medical diagnostics — risk extending global health and social disasters if their deployment is controlled by corporations that value maximizing profit over promoting the public good.
So let’s take a look at the proposed new UK testing.
Prenetics is a Hong Kong-based diagnostics & digital healthcare company headed by founder and CEO Danny Yeung. It is a technology driven life sciences company specializing in precision medicine and digital health. Prenetics has developed iGenes, a non-invasive test which identifies in every patient the right drug and right dosage based on an individual's unique DNA. In addition, Prenetics has also launched myDNA, a lifestyle and wellness test which provides users with the most optimal diet and nutrition. At Prenetics, our mission is to help people lead healthier, more active lives by empowering them with predictive and preventive treatments using the latest proven innovations in DNA technology. Our team consists of top-tier scientists, engineers and healthcare professionals who work together to provide vital information to physicians. We use advanced DNA Sequencing technology with custom automation in our ISO-accredited diagnostics laboratory. This year the company has expanded its business from DNA home test kits to COVID-19 testing. This Hong Kong-based COVID-19 test provider helped English football's Premier League resume matches and is planning an initial public offering. UK testing pod locations incl. Birmingham, Bristol & Chester, Heathrow, Manchester & Reading.
The latest fundraising by the 7-year-old startup backed by Jack Ma's Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund will value it between $800 million and $900 million. This compares with a valuation above $300 million as of the company's last funding round in September.
In November, Prenetics acquired Oxsed, which had developed a rapid COVID-19 testing platform based on research from the U.K.'s Oxford University. Under the deal, Prenetics and its U.K. unit have exclusive global rights to the Oxsed technology.
Prenetics grew rapidly in the past year after swiftly pivoting to offer COVID-19 testing kits on top of its core genetic testing services.
With the incoming funds, Prenetics will work on developing 30-minute home test kits for cancer, HIV and other infectious diseases. "This is potentially a multibillion-dollar market," Yeung said.
Prenetics turned a full-year profit in 2020 on the back of a coronavirus-testing boom, however, the company is not going to be profitable in the next three years as it continues to invest in research and development, Yeung said. In the past year, it has added over 100 employees to its 300-plus workforce, which operates out of 10 countries.
While Yeung declined to disclose revenue figures, one source said the company has more than doubled revenues in each of the past two years.
The company has so far conducted over 1.5 million COVID-19 tests with a turnaround time as short as 15 minutes. Its other clients include the Hong Kong International Airport, the Hong Kong government and several airports in the U.K., including Heathrow.
The company, which operates three community testing centers in Hong Kong, also helped test 200,000 workers at 16,000 restaurants, supermarkets and wet markets. It was the only Hong Kong-based company selected for the government-sponsored COVID-19 testing program.
And what of Hong Kong Alibaba? According to an article way back in 2019….
What does it do?
E-commerce remains the company's bread and butter, conducted mainly via its largely consumer-to-consumer Taobao site and the more business-to-consumer Tmall, and typically paid for via its digital-payments unit Alipay, which has become a pioneer in that sector.
Through Alibaba's platforms, Chinese consumers can buy a wide array of products from clothing to electronics, food, luxury products and even more unusual goods—including Boeing 747 cargo planes.
But Alibaba's success has seen it invest heavily in new business lines as well.
It owns leading Chinese video streaming website Youku, and its Alibaba Pictures unit in 2016 bought a stake in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners, which owns DreamWorks Pictures, among other entertainment ventures.
It also is investing in cloud computing and other aspects of China's growing digital ecosystem including the acquisition of Chinese food-delivery leader Ele.me.
How big is it?
Alibaba is now the most valuable public Chinese company, with a market capitalisation of around $477 billion as of this week, and one of the top-10 most valuable in the world, though still trailing US e-commerce counterpart Amazon, which is worth around $870 billion.
Alibaba now claims nearly 104,000 employees at its headquarters in Ma's hometown of Hangzhou in China's eastern province of Zhejiang, but also around China and overseas.
Hi Caroline, Hope you are well.
Whilst having a natural interest in Fishing and the associated politics, we are members of the British Ports Association (BPA) and they do a good job balancing lobbying, representation and promoting from a ports perspective, so we leave it to them!
The outcome of the fisheries deal is disappointing and not what was promised. ‘Frictionless trade’ seems a long way away! Our fish mainly comes from Iceland with additional supplies from Norway, Faroe and Ireland! As importers we have not had any major problems so far but there are some new rules coming in which we need to evaluate. The BPA are on it.We are fortunate to have a diverse business so we will continue to muddle through! If we solely relied on UK fishing we’d have packed up years ago!
In the current circumstances of the ‘seafood industry’ there is a real dichotomy, some are doing really well and some are struggling badly. Most definitely winners and losers. In Scotland there are many who voted leave change their views. The result of all this, is an industry that is truly fractured!