Q&A with Richard Jefferson – Stanford Social Innovation Review

Stanford Social Innovation Review,  February 14, 2011

Author: Johanna MairThis Q&A session with Richard Jefferson was published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Richard Jefferson believes that biotechnology can be used to benefit the poor and disenfranchised, but only if the R&D process is democratized so that everyone has access to critical scientific tools and technologies.

Richard Jefferson is the founder and CEO of Cambia, a Brisbane, Australiabased nonprofit that is trying to transform the way that we create new crops, drugs, and other biologically based products. Today, the biotechnology revolution is dominated by large multinational corporations, such as Monsanto, that use patents, access to capital, and other means to control critical technologies. As a result, the products that are developed are largely ones that maximize profits, not solve pressing social problems. For the past two decades Cambia has been trying to upend that dominant model. Cambia is developing new scientific tools and processes for controlling and manipulating genes, and making them available to all organizations on a progressive pricing model: Large corporations pay a lot, whereas small shops pay little. Cambia’s approach makes it more likely that new drugs will be developed for otherwise ignored diseases, and that new crops will be developed that are more environmentally sustainable.

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