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Genomics Impact On US Economy Approaches $1 Trillion

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the g-a-c-t-money dept.

The Almighty Buck 115

sciencehabit writes "Despite a slow economy, business in genomics has boomed and has directly and indirectly boosted the U.S. economy by $965 billion since 1988, according to a new study (pdf). In 2012 alone, genomics-related research and development, along with relevant industry activities, contributed $31 billion to the U.S. gross national product and helped support 152,000 jobs, the biomedical funding advocacy group United for Medical Research announced today in Washington, D.C. Based on total U.S. spending, the country gets $65 back for every $1 it spends on the field."

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umm... (2, Insightful)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about a year ago | (#43991149)

So in other words this stuff really is overpriced?

Re:umm... (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year ago | (#43991501)

So in other words this stuff really is overpriced?

The real questions are; Who controls it and, profits from it and who benefits from it? Obviously not the owners of the genome, you know, you, me, and the others who acquired it the good old fashioned way.

Re:umm... (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#43991597)

The real questions are out of whose pocket does that $65 come from and into whose pocket is it going and of course how many people are dying because it is priced beyond their reach.

Re:umm... (1)

jovial73 (1230106) | about a year ago | (#43994277)

We make genomes the old fashioned way.... we inherit it.

Re:umm... (1)

tloh (451585) | about a year ago | (#43992165)

What price would you put on a life? Far from being just another business, the result of both basic and applied research derived from Genomics contributes beyond direct economic growth, benefiting all of society when you consider diseases prevented, lives saved, and improved public health. We are still in the infancy of this young field, but consider the wide ranging effects of historic innovations in medical science such as antiseptic sanitation, discovery/use of antibiotics, and immunotherapy for comparison.

Even if we consider a narrower perspective - From the article:

The HGP has had a profound positive effect, not only in human health and medicine, but also in
fields as diverse as: renewable energy development, food and agriculture, veterinary medicine,
industrial biotechnology, environmental protection, justice and national security.

Re:umm... (1)

demachina (71715) | about a year ago | (#43998251)

Its a little one side to think genomics will be all upside. The flip side...

A. What will be the costs if someone designs genetically targetted weapons, i.e. biological weapons that only target certain races or even individual people. I read an article a while back that the Secret Service strives to minimize access to the President's DNA, for example skin cells left in sheets, to prevent someone from targetting his genome with a biological weapon.

B. What will the cost be when people or nation states try to genetically engineer for superior intelligence, strength and speed to create an actual master race. It might be a win for them if they succeed, not so much for everyone else.

C. What will the cost be if eugenics returns and people who are considered genetically inferior are sterilized and their genome is wiped out. Reference B.

D. What will be the cost be when someone tries to genetical engineer a virus, bacteria, plant or animal, it goes horribly wrong and results in a global threat.

Re:umm... (1)

tloh (451585) | about a year ago | (#43999467)

A. Are you saying just because a technology can be used for harm it should be abandoned or suppressed? The same has been said of nuclear power, and we are all still here. In this day and age, controlling what information (genomic or otherwise) people can access and how they use it isn't that easy. Just ask the RIAA and MPAA.

B. Don't worry about it! Everyone knows that Kirk, Spock, and Bones will always save us from Khan - regardless of the timeline. Reference JJ Abrams & Gene Roddenberry

C. On a more serious note, eugenics is nothing new - the idea has been around for hundreds of years. Just because the technology makes it more feasible doesn't mean we are reckless enough to flirt with it again. I think the Nazis and an ensuing war in which they lost might have soured the idea in some people's minds.

D. Those of us who actually have lab research experience don't see things that way. Contrary to what Hollywood will have you believe, this stuff is not so easy to do accidentally. It is a little like using Matthew Broderick's War Games as a point of reference for actual computer security. Would *you* like to play a game?? You have a lot more to fear from mother nature which has had more than a Billion years with the entire Earth's biosphere to tinker with ways to implement pathogenic virulence.

This is FUD (-1, Troll)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43991157)

To protect Monsanto from mega lawsuits and ensure lobbying goes into place to make sure all genomes are on 200 year leases.

Re:This is FUD (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43991257)

No, it's more like "please don't stop funding science, specifically this one part."

Re:This is FUD (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43991361)

There is enough economic incentive to do this kind of research anyway that it does not need to rely wholly on grants. And if the majority of this research comes out of grants. I am going to say we have seen better results from NPO's and private charities building food forests and doing experimental farming in places like Africa.

The majority of articles I have seen in the news leads me to believe that genomic agricultural research is mostly to keep the rich people rich. That includes the Chinese rich along with the Western rich. Two classes of untouchables at this point.

I still eat what comes out of publics and its no were near as good as what the Swedes eat. I think the American people are getting bamboozled. I don't have sources and citations for you. Just gut feeling and instinct. But its good enough for me. And I know how I feel today compared to how I felt 10 years ago.

Re:This is FUD (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43991373)

*So no net benefit to society as a whole and this article is just a bunch of $$ numbers to make politicians feel good about themselves and middle men university grads.

Re:This is FUD (4, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43991521)

This is about the human genome, you goof, not crops. The money is from medical innovations. RTFA!

Re:This is FUD (4, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#43991777)

Besides better understanding of ourselves, vastly improved drugs, methods to understand and predict inherited diseases, risk factor management, and more effective treatments, what has genomics done for us?

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43991821)

Brought peace?

(Or, less in line with the joke, understanding of evolution and our place in it. I guess that's sort of like peace, but the Judean People's Front won't have any of it.)

Re:This is FUD (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43991867)

The "Judean People's Front" are traitors, not like the People's Front of Judea.

Re:This is FUD (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43992297)

Apparently going off on tangent Monsanto wrecked my point. Which is everyday people, most of us, who don't reach elite levels of self importance and education and monetary reward from our "betters" aint seen shit and were still pissed and think this is bullshit.

Oh well. I'm trying to talk to the wrong crowed here. Let me find another soap box somewhere else.

I think figuring out genetics and giving the info away because its our motherfucking universities getting grants and doing the research which we all pay for out of all of our pockets would be sweet. By the way. And if that indeed is how this works great.

Sounds to me like corporate speak for, lets patent 5 more cancer drugs and watch the flies die because they got fucked by their environment, us, industry, bad food, bad lifestyles, didn't have an opportunity because they were just dumb bear drinking humans... not all seeing eye ones...

Re:This is FUD (2)

Doubting Sapien (2448658) | about a year ago | (#43992547)

Oh well. I'm trying to talk to the wrong crowed here. Let me find another soap box somewhere else.

Instead of getting on another soap box and saying anything at all, would you consider stopping to listen to what others are saying? There are many insights being expressed here that are worth thinking about and learning from. If you do have to say something, consider asking an engaging question.

Re:This is FUD (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43996381)

I consider this particular battle lost. No point in listening to what I already know... I have heard it all before. I don't necessarily disagree. But I have a different perspective on our 'grant system' and Universities.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#43994713)

So your argument boils down to 'Where's my flying car?' with a dash of well poisoning and seasoned with willful ignorance. Well as a different everyday blue collar person, you don't speak for 'us'.

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43998227)

Splitters!

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43993989)

Have any citations for vastly improved drugs and more effective treatments? From my reading there has actually been very little progress in this area over the last few decades.

Re:This is FUD (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43991851)

Except that my first take on this was what innovations. Yes, a lot of stuff is hyped up, but I've seen precious little utility for genomics in the trenches.

I think this study is total BS - especially since the methodology is hidden. Sequencing the human genome is interesting, but the real key is sequencing other genomes and comparing them. That's happening with abandon now.

And we're finally getting a handle on what controls the genome and how all the little pieces fit together. That should yield some better therapies but aside from a few edge cases in cancer treatment, there isn't much out there. And it's not like these cancer treatments have overwhelmingly improved survival - improvements of 20 - 50% are typical. Nothing to sneeze at, but not the Holy Grail.

Re:This is FUD (3, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43992017)

Woah, woah, what?

Except that my first take on this was what innovations.

Every single drug and test invented in the past twelve years has been absolutely dependent on understanding the sequence of the human genome and how its components play together. 15 new anti-cancer drugs were approved in 2012 alone, the most bountiful year for FDA approvals since 1995.

Yes, a lot of stuff is hyped up, but I've seen precious little utility for genomics in the trenches.

Then you've never heard of this [wikipedia.org] ? Or this [wikipedia.org] ? How much more trench-y do you need?

I think this study is total BS - especially since the methodology is hidden.

The third page links to the full report [battelle.org] , noting that it includes the full methodology behind the study. The word "methodology" is right there in bright blue.

Sequencing the human genome is interesting, but the real key is sequencing other genomes and comparing them. That's happening with abandon now.

As far as human health is concerned, the primary questions are (a) how do we work? (b) how do the things that interact with us work? and (c) how does our environment affect us? While many model organisms provide excellent snapshots of simpler genomes that we can use to unravel complex mechanisms (like cell division in yeast), comparative genomics really only teaches us about evolution. It's not relevant to medicine, outside of predicting the evolution of pathogens. We're not benefiting human medicine by sequencing, say, red pandas or sea turtles, although these things are certainly important for other reasons. There are occasionally exceptional genomes, like the naked mole rat (immune to cancer), but these are rare.

And we're finally getting a handle on what controls the genome and how all the little pieces fit together.

The biggest recent contributor to that has been ENCODE [ucsc.edu] , which, again, was a direct analysis of human data and did not involve any other species.

That should yield some better therapies but aside from a few edge cases in cancer treatment, there isn't much out there. And it's not like these cancer treatments have overwhelmingly improved survival - improvements of 20 - 50% are typical. Nothing to sneeze at, but not the Holy Grail.

We picked all the low-hanging fruit like phenylketonuria as soon as it became technologically feasible. Problems like cancer and severe autism are extremely complex, and the only hope we have to tackle them is through an extremely intimate understandinf of the human genome.

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43992411)

As far as human health is concerned, the primary questions are (a) how do we work? (b) how do the things that interact with us work? and (c) how does our environment affect us? While many model organisms provide excellent snapshots of simpler genomes that we can use to unravel complex mechanisms (like cell division in yeast), comparative genomics really only teaches us about evolution. It's not relevant to medicine, outside of predicting the evolution of pathogens. We're not benefiting human medicine by sequencing, say, red pandas or sea turtles, although these things are certainly important for other reasons. There are occasionally exceptional genomes, like the naked mole rat (immune to cancer), but these are rare.

*jaw drops*... please tell me you're joking... i'm guessing you're an undergrad and you know just enough to be dangerous (but clearly not enough to have an intelligent opinion). i am particularly amazed by this sentence: "comparative genomics really only teaches us about evolution. It's not relevant to medicine, outside of predicting the evolution of pathogens." please, do go on

Re:This is FUD (1)

Doubting Sapien (2448658) | about a year ago | (#43992471)

Sir, what are your credentials? Instead of making unfounded assumptions about your Interlocutor behind the shield of an anonymous coward, would you care to comment substantively on the subject at hand? I was prepared to rebut GP, but I'd like to hear what you have to say first.

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43992447)

hi, sorry for my last comment. i've calmed down and realized it's ok for people to not know what's up, especially in the world of genomics. lol. for the most part, it sounds like you do know a lot. but actually, comparative genomics and evolution are incredibly useful to medicine. i realize you were just contributing your knowledge to the discussion, and there is nothing wrong with that. since the internet is anonymous it's easy to write a negative reply to someone, but you know... there are always real people behind the mask. and it's great to see people interested in genomics. oh god, what have i done, lol

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43992671)

My lab works on protozoan parasite genomes in the context of gene network evolution. At a hospital. I'm a doctoral student in computational biology, and my core expertise is sequence analysis. I promise you that I'm well aware of what I said.

I think you, honestly, misread. My point was that sequencing random organisms is not medically useful; it's focusing on diseases (to divine means of attack) or some carefully-selected model organism (to understand a simplified version of ourselves) that brings us important information. And for the most part, we've got the data on the useful models for humans. No one is rushing out and proposing that we replace S. cerevisiae with some obscure protozoan for studying the cell cycle—that work is done.

Health research is much more more now concerned with studying the subtleties of the human genome itself, such as with the ENCODE project, and comparisons with other species have shown us that the new information we've garnered from ENCODE—the huge portion of the genome that's transcribed—is not very conserved at the sequence level between species. I think it's very unlikely that the cure for, say, autism, will involve any cross-species comparisons. Of course, there will always be viruses and pathogenic bacteria, as well as fungal, protozoan, and metazoan parasites.

While certainly there's a lot to do for studying such diseases and their models in depth, those aren't genomes that we're particularly concerned with comparing back to humans, except perhaps to make sure that we can identify a unique drug target that won't harm the patient. That falls under the "evolution of pathogens" part, although perhaps "predicting" was the wrong word.

So, ultimately, my point is: genome comparisons and evolutionary biology are both absolutely essential to medicine, but not all of them. There are a lot of species out there that we're sequencing now which will never be of medical value, and a lot of stuff we're learning about evolution isn't directly applicable either. No human lives will ever hinge on knowing the composition of the Pelagibacter ubique genome, although the environmental genomics knowledge that resulted has certainly opened our eyes to the importance and complexity of the microbial communities that live in symbiosis with the human body. It doesn't really matter that the extracellular matrix is primarily made up of re-used protein domains that are over a billion years old, although ECM research will one day cure a wide variety of human ailments.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Doubting Sapien (2448658) | about a year ago | (#43992619)

..... comparative genomics really only teaches us about evolution. It's not relevant to medicine, outside of predicting the evolution of pathogens. We're not benefiting human medicine by sequencing, say, red pandas or sea turtles, although these things are certainly important for other reasons. There are occasionally exceptional genomes, like the naked mole rat (immune to cancer), but these are rare.

Comparative genomics are of enormous importance to the field of cisgenesis/intragenesis [wikipedia.org] . Somewhat inbetween traditional plant breeding and inter-species genetic engineering, intragenics seeks to modify a target organism by transferring genes from related organisms. When applied to agriculture, there are practical savings in resources expended when trying to create new cultivars of existing crops. For more see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17692557 [nih.gov]

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43992689)

Well, yes... but I did said medicine. I'm pretty sure that falls under "other reasons." :)

For what it's worth, I'm not really a medical person at heart, even though I'm surrounded by medical stuff constantly. I'd rather navel-gaze at the LUCA or something. But, yeah, comparative genomics is critical in a wide range of natural resources industries; fisheries and forestry in particular are very concerned about defending their stocks from diseases. (At least, that's what the grant in my job description said.)

Re:This is FUD (1)

Doubting Sapien (2448658) | about a year ago | (#43992757)

Thanks for clarifying your point. I think it was the ".....only teaches us about evolution." bit that threw some of us off as to why comparative genomics should ever be useful to anyone. Not a bad perspective, but maybe a bit awkwardly worded.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43992825)

Mesmerisingly, no matter how long I spend on a post here, there always seems to be some way to make them clearer in hindsight.

Re:This is FUD (1)

kirovs (1700150) | about a year ago | (#43998853)

Comparative genetics/genomics is of HUGE value to medicine and pharmacogenomics. The very essence of of drug discovery is based on selecting animal model and exploring mechanism of action and protein structure in several animals. Having outliers organisms is very important to having power in comparative analysis and accidentally red panda and sea turtle would make nice outliers. To simplify this imagine you need to know if a residues is critical for the function of a protein- you look in sea turtle and you that it is conserved, just as in chimp and rhesus and rodents. Pretty good hint this is an important residue. Samantha, this was a free lesson, but reading some good drug discovery book would be helpful for you. Most biologics are produced in CHO (Chinese hamster ovary cell line). We frequently need to know the sequence of the CHO/hamster genome.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43998951)

While I'm grateful for your comments, I'm afraid you're late to the party; I'd advise you to read some of the subsequent comments. My point was that sequencing biological diversity was not pertinent to medicine. I intended to exclude model systems from my declaration, but that wasn't perfectly clear.

Re:This is FUD (1)

kirovs (1700150) | about a year ago | (#44000793)

And I am saying that it is. You cannot simply exclude drug discovery from medicine now, can you? Or biologics production. No matter how you look at your statement it is simply wrong. And yes- I did read the other comments. So I did not see anyone mention drug discovery. Perhaps you are unaware how drug discovery works, but I have been in the field long enough to tell you what you say is very far from the truth.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44001125)

Most of the outliers used as benchmarks that I've seen are frogs, like Xenopus tropicalis. These genomes are generally sufficiently well curated and distant from our own to support arguments about conservation. It's excessive to worry about taking a census from the entire tree of life, particularly when the actual biochemists in charge of drug production don't trust bioinformatics anyway, and ultimately will carry out detailed structural analyses and mutation assays on the final candidate targets.

A very coarse estimate is sufficient, as evidenced by the huge wealth of drug targets that have been identified even without the consideration of a comprehensive survey of the tree of life. Certainly there is room for refinement, and perhaps you'll see a small improvement in predictive accuracy, but proving the point that the nice big protein sequence alignment figure in the errata of the paper has a bunch of Ws where we have a Y really only requires a dozen or so pertinent examples; the returns are very diminishing. If you have to sequence ten thousand obscure mammals just to find one that has a deletion mutation right where you want it, it's probably not representative.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Doubting Sapien (2448658) | about a year ago | (#43992433)

I disagree vehemently with GP as he/she is obviously clueless about the subject matter. However, I also take issue with the implication of your snippy reply that crops are somehow divorced from or not associated with progress in genomic research. I assure you, agriculture has not been left behind by recent technological innovations in this area. Many of the underlying tools and techniques jump started by the HGP is routinely used by the research arm of the USDA in the interest of the American public. During a 10 month stint at the Western Regional Research Center in Albany CA, I provided lab support for a protein chemist who studied the nature of food allergens as part of an effort to increase accessibility of nutrition to those with food allergies. For my boss, bioinformatic tools were part of his routine. For me, many of the genomic databases became my friends. Scores of molecular biology experiments I was performing couldn't be done without checking libraries or catalogs such as those at NCBI established in the wake of the HGP. A rising tide raises all boats. We may not have worked directly with the human genome, but we're all beneficiaries just the same.

Re:This is FUD (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43992565)

Without a doubt that's true, and I'd never propose to debate it—it seems sometimes I spend half my life staring at NCBI and ENSEMBL records; to be honest, I can't think of a corner of the biological sciences that hasn't been affected in some way by the techniques or results of the HGP. That being said, I felt that it was important to ward off flayzernax's discussion of the topic, particularly since it was starting to accrue some supremely lazy mod points.

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43994363)

paid for by Batelle

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43992257)

Pardon me, but are you a moron?

Why pay for basic research (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#43992323)

When you can have it paid for by the gov't. When will people learn that the rich always have socialism. The only question is will everyone else have it.

Re:This is FUD (1)

DoctorBonzo (2646833) | about a year ago | (#43994047)

Yes, it's pretty amusing to RTFA and read between the lines. The calculation of ROI from tax dollars is predicated on no other investment from private sources, even though they mention in passing that there's been substantial private input.

I'm all for funding science, but this sort of hype is just propaganda for the proles and members of congress.

This is biomedical, not agricultural (3, Informative)

ranton (36917) | about a year ago | (#43991593)

This has nothing to do with Monsanto. This is about medical research that has been boosted by advances such as mapping the human genome.

Re:This is FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991643)

Genomics is not genetic engineering, and even if it was, genetic science & technology are not a corporate conspiracy, and furthermore, even Monsanto's patents are not that long (take a wild guess at what ends [nytimes.com] next year).

I think your tinfoil hat is on too tight.

Wow! (2, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | about a year ago | (#43991203)

Industry Group claims it is useful in own report, film at eleven.

Re:Wow! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991325)

And your evidence that their figures are incorrect or misleading is where exactly?

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991489)

And GP said figures were incorrect or misleading where, exactly?

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991753)

It's a clear implication of the post. Are retarded or just being intentional dense?

Bias reflects reliability, not accuracy (1)

Etherwalk (681268) | about a year ago | (#43991923)

It's a clear implication of the post. Are retarded or just being intentional dense?

(1) Not at all, it is indicated the report is biased and less reliable than an unbiased report. Whether it is accurate is an entirely different question than whether it is biased. An alleged murderer may have his mother testify that he was home with her at the time of the murder, for example, and her testimony is biased and therefore less reliable regardless of whether it is accurate.

(2) Ad hominem attacks are not nerdly.

Re:Wow! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43992101)

It kind of has to. We're evidently too stupid to realize it on our own. We spent 3 billion on the human genome project and it's going to be vital to the eventual cure for cancer. We spend 6 billion PER SUBMARINE [wikipedia.org] to fight... I dunno, terrorists with scuba gear? And we're still cutting the NIH budget.

Headline should be "Industry group says 'You know, what, fuck y'all missile-riding cowboys. See you in hell.'"

Re:Wow! (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43992335)

film at eleven

Wins 12 Oscars

of course... (4, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43991289)

I think public funding of basic research is one of the few areas where the federal government is justified in spending significant amounts of money.

But "generating economic impact" is a useless measure; the federal government could create a trillion dollars of economic impact by forcing everybody to burn down their houses or by simply forcing everybody to pay twice as much for their health care (well, they are trying the latter), but we wouldn't be better off as a result.

Re:of course... (2, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43991413)

I was with you until the Obamacare crack. Healthcare costs have been skyrocketing for 30 years, now if anyone's premium goes up a dollar that's because of Obamacare? Costs aren't going down, but at least the rate they're growing has started slowing down.

Re:of course... (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43991819)

Healthcare costs have been skyrocketing for 30 years, now if anyone's premium goes up a dollar that's because of Obamacare?

No, but Obamacare does amazingly little to control costs. Obama started by giving pharma and med insurance companies what they wanted. There's a reason why the insurance stocks went up after it passed - what company has a problem with guaranteed customers? A public option would have given them a run for their money, and with pharma the collective bargaining power of 308M people could do something about prices. Some of the cost containment claimed is absurd. It limits the medical loss ratio, to a lower ratio (more for the insurance companies) than what they have now! And the pre-Obamacare MLR is lower than what they had ten years ago. I've believed in universal health care for decades, but I'm not sure we can afford Obama and congress kissing corporate butt like this.

Re:of course... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#43991895)

You're correct. Obama care is going to save precious little money. What it might do is increase the number of people who are covered with insurance. But that requires the states to tag along and pay some money themselves. Not a very popular concept these days. It might decrease the rate of increase in medical costs - whoopedo. It will create another cottage industry of consultants trying to explain the thousands of pages of rules and regs to everyone else.

It probably was the best anyone could do which is a damning insight into the state of this country's political and economic systems. Obama should have aborted the damaged fetus, but I suspect he was too emotionally attached to it. It's going to need a long period of rehab before it becomes a useful citizen.

Re:of course... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#43992253)

It will create another cottage industry of consultants trying to explain the thousands of pages of rules and regs to everyone else.

I don't know if Obamacare is good or bad, but I'm very, very concerned about the way it was written and passed: one, big, complex bill that was rammed through Congress before anybody except the authors had had a chance to read it, let alone understand it. Much better would have been a series of bills dealing with different aspects of the reform, with each one short enough to be read, understood and debated. I won't say that there are any nasty surprises lurking in the bill, but I can't say that there aren't, because it's so long, complex and unexplained. About all I can do is be glad that I get my health care from the VA, so I probably won't be affected by it one way or the other.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43992961)

Many people are looking at drastic increases in states where Obamacare is being implemented, far higher than traditional growth, in part because they are forced to buy coverage they don't want and they don't need. Obamacare promised to rein in the the growth of health care costs and insurance premiums, and it is obviously a failure.

If you're going to implement European-style health insurance coverage, you must implement European-style cost controls, which usually involve strict limits on what insurance companies can charge, how much doctors earn, how hospitals are run, and what conditions are treated or not treated. Obama didn't do that, instead he handed a boondoggle to the insurance companies and private corporations and has the consumer pay for it, under the pretext of doing what other "civilized countries" do.

Re:of course... (1)

GoogleShill (2732413) | about a year ago | (#43996207)

No, right-wing news hosts are saying that. The only people who will pay more are companies who are only now required to provide insurance to their employees and therefore have a 100% increase in healthcare costs.

My empirical evidence was in the form of a rebate from United Healthcare because they exceeded the premium cap mandated by the ACA. That's right, money back and a lower premium because of Obamacare.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43997479)

No, right-wing news hosts are saying that.

Take off your partisan glasses and face reality:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/04/obamacare-rate-shock-how-big-is-it-does-it-matter.html [thedailybeast.com]

The only people who will pay more are companies who are only now required to provide insurance to their employees and therefore have a 100% increase in healthcare costs.

That's simply false. Rates are going up for many people.

Furthermore, the businesses that have a "100% increase in healthcare costs" will pass that on to consumers and employees, and will reduce staff to make ends meet.

Re:of course... (1)

GoogleShill (2732413) | about a year ago | (#43997903)

Take off your partisan glasses and face reality:

Uh, what? You start out with a bogus Obamacare dig, then you link an article which shows no evidence, just some numbers that /some/ economists are expecting people to pay. And still those numbers are far less than what many people are paying now. For example, my friend got laid off and was paying $1800/mo to cover his wife and newborn through COBRA. That's roughly 50% of the average household gross income spent directly on insurance.

I'm basing my viewpoint on real evidence, not the BS estimates you see all over the news. I'm mid-30's, healthy and working for a small company. Exactly the type of person who is "estimated" to pay more, and yet, I'm paying less.

Furthermore, the businesses that have a "100% increase in healthcare costs" will pass that on to consumers and employees, and will reduce staff to make ends meet.

If a company is too greedy to give health benefits to it's employees, then in my opinion, they deserve to fail. We're not talking about mom and pop shops, these are companies with more than 50 full-time employees. It also affects the entire market, so competitors all have to adjust and it works itself out.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43999583)

Uh, what? You start out with a bogus Obamacare dig, then you link an article which shows no evidence

The article gives real rates for actual payers. You can check them yourself if you like.

I'm basing my viewpoint on real evidence, not the BS estimates you see all over the news. I'm mid-30's, healthy and working for a small company. Exactly the type of person who is "estimated" to pay more, and yet, I'm paying less.

That means nothing. You may simply have been on an uncompetitive rate plan or have had too much coverage. (Given how financially inexperienced you seem to be, that is actually likely.)

We're not talking about mom and pop shops, these are companies with more than 50 full-time employees. It also affects the entire market, so competitors all have to adjust and it works itself out.

Yes, it will work itself out: companies will fire employees, automate more, and move jobs overseas, where employees have full health care benefits at a fraction of the cost of Obamacare.

Re:of course... (1)

GoogleShill (2732413) | about a year ago | (#44000671)

The article gives real rates for actual payers. You can check them yourself if you like.

That means nothing. You may simply have been on an uncompetitive rate plan or have had too much coverage. (Given how financially inexperienced you seem to be, that is actually likely.)

Yes, my lower premiums are "uncompetitive", and my HDHP is too much coverage. Given that you've based your arguments solely on unsubstantiated numbers and lies, I can only imagine how "experienced" you must be. I posted fact, you posted lies.

Yes, it will work itself out: companies will fire employees, automate more, and move jobs overseas, where employees have full health care benefits at a fraction of the cost of Obamacare.

Ah, there it is. OMG THE SKY IS FALLING DUE TO OBAMACARE!!!11 Mindless drivel from yet another internet troll.

Re:of course... (1)

ranton (36917) | about a year ago | (#43991659)

"Generating economic impact" is a very useful measure. It is quite possibly the best measure of any government program other than social safety nets.

the federal government could create a trillion dollars of economic impact by forcing everybody to burn down their houses or by simply forcing everybody to pay twice as much for their health care

They said economic impact not economic activity. If they burned every house down and rebuilt every one of them, the net economic impact of spending trillions of dollars would be $0. Well, it would be a little positive because the houses would be nicer, but definetly not worth the money spent.

Re:of course... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43991825)

"Generating economic impact" is a very useful measure.

That'd be true if it could actually be measured.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43992983)

They said economic impact not economic activity. If they burned every house down and rebuilt every one of them, the net economic impact of spending trillions of dollars would be $0

"Economic impact" is an ambiguous weasel-word, and the thing they did not say was "economic gain".

In the case of people burning down their houses, you could actually subtract the losses from the gains, but the way these calculations are done, you'd still end up with nominal big overall gains, because the same dollar is counted many times in these calculations. Without that, you couldn't get such huge multipliers.

For most other forms of government activity, it's worse: the losses can't even be accounted for because they tend occur as externalities or opportunity costs.

Re:of course... (1)

ranton (36917) | about a year ago | (#43994687)

"Economic impact" is an ambiguous weasel-word, and the thing they did not say was "economic gain".

A positive economic impact is an economic gain. A negative economic impact is an economic loss. I really don't think anyone should fault the writers of this paper for assuming this was obvious.

In the case of people burning down their houses, you could actually subtract the losses from the gains, but the way these calculations are done, you'd still end up with nominal big overall gains, because the same dollar is counted many times in these calculations. Without that, you couldn't get such huge multipliers.

They do mention in the TFA that efforts were made to not count effects more than once when calculating cumulative effects. But obviously there are going to be huge multipliers when you are talking about basic research. That is the reason there has been more economic advance in the past two hundred years than there was in all of human history before it. Scientific advances build on each other in a very non-linear way.

For most other forms of government activity, it's worse: the losses can't even be accounted for because they tend occur as externalities or opportunity costs.

I do agree that government figures are almost always distorted because they do not account for opportunity costs. It is a shameful practice that makes almost any figures coming from the government meaningless, whether they are talking about the true cost of our last two wars or the true cost of Obamacare. I am not sure if this study takes into account opportunity costs, but even if they didn't the study shows such a large return on investment that I doubt opportunity costs would erase it.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43997075)

A positive economic impact is an economic gain. A negative economic impact is an economic loss. I really don't think anyone should fault the writers of this paper for assuming this was obvious.

The writers didn't say "positive economic impact", they said "economic impact", likely because they can't actually make a good case that the impact is entirely positive.

I am not sure if this study takes into account opportunity costs, but even if they didn't the study shows such a large return on investment that I doubt opportunity costs would erase it.

That's why the study is so manipulative: they throw a lot of big numbers at you and hope that you'll draw that conclusion. What you really should be concluding is that they are trying to bamboozle you with these big numbers because they don't really have any more concrete evidence that their spending was worth it.

Furthermore, "opportunity cost" also means whether the spending was needed at all. Was it really rational for the US government to engage in a race with a private company to sequence the human genome? Was it rational to do the sequencing using really expensive devices, when much lower cost sequencing would have been available a few years later anyway? Is NIH the right way of distributing this money? If the multiplier really is this high, why wouldn't private companies have a huge incentive to do this research without public funding? The whole analysis makes no sense.

As I was saying before, I think spending federal tax dollars on research is a good thing and we should increase it. But "studies" like this suggest that there is something wrong with the way the money is spent, and the people doing the spending know it.

Re:of course... (1)

ranton (36917) | about a year ago | (#43998777)

The report could be complete bunk, but I do have issues with a few of your statements.

Was it really rational for the US government to engage in a race with a private company to sequence the human genome?

It was a very good thing because the Celera Corporation made every effort to keep their data private and out of GenBank. The results of the genome project would have been far less beneficial if there wasn't significant pressure from the DOE/NIH funded research. Celera did complete their work at a fraction of the cost the public research, but this was a project that was far too important to allow a single company to control the results.

Was it rational to do the sequencing using really expensive devices, when much lower cost sequencing would have been available a few years later anyway?

You can always make this rationalization. There will always be something better and cheaper down the line. It is easy to see that in hindsight they could have saved a couple billion dollars by waiting a few years, but the benefit is so large that a couple billion dollars is peanuts by comparison.

If the multiplier really is this high, why wouldn't private companies have a huge incentive to do this research without public funding?

Even if the multiplier is this high, it doesn't mean that a single company would get all of the benefits. For the government, they don't care about that. Perhaps in this case the benefit only became so great because the results were open and not controlled by an organization whose goal was profit. If Celera had been able to charge huge fees to any public research organization there may have been a lot less research, and therefore far less gains.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43999489)

You can always make this rationalization. There will always be something better and cheaper down the line. It is easy to see that in hindsight they could have saved a couple billion dollars by waiting a few years, but the benefit is so large that a couple billion dollars is peanuts by comparison.

In fact, many people at the time thought that the human genome project was premature, and that the money would have been better spent on other programs until the cost of sequencing had come down. I see little reason to revise that opinion in hindsight.

Even if the multiplier is this high, it doesn't mean that a single company would get all of the benefits.

Not at all; lots of companies would have done the sequencing and made the data available at ever cheaper prices, until a few years later, the government would have redone the whole thing for a negligible amount of money.

Re:of course... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43991677)

Then look at the report—there're plenty of more specific measures. Six billion dollars in federal and state tax revenue, 293 billion dollars in paid salaries, and 277,000 highly-skilled jobs created or supported. The trillion-dollar figure isn't super sensical at first glance, but there are somewhat more meaningful figures in there.

Re:of course... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43991859)

It's not hard to pull number out of one's posterior, which is what these "economic impact" studies do.

Re:of course... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43993001)

293 billion dollars in paid salaries, and 277,000 highly-skilled jobs created or supported.

That's a plus only if these people are doing something useful. Otherwise, the government is taking 277000 highly skilled workers and wasting their talent on meaningless work, and the US government just sucked a trillion dollars in opportunity cost out of the economy.

That's why it's true to say that this is "economic impact", but nobody knows whether it's an actual gain or loss.

Re:of course... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43997481)

Given that a lot of the products of this work involve expensive drugs which both save lives and break banks, it's impossible to say for certain, although as I have a lot of colleagues in that pool I can say with some authority that they certainly think it's productive.

Re:of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43997745)

I think my cat has more authority and credibility than you.

Re:of course... (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#43997839)

I'm sure you think lots of things that make you special and unique.

People paying to stay alive longer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991805)

Ultimately, this is about people paying to stay alive longer. I guess a real number, is that people can last longer before retirement. I guess it also makes treatment of people under the death panel age, cheaper.

We have not faced the possibility of keeping a person alive and functioning for a very long time, with the only limitation being cost. Other nations have death panels, and they keep costs down. What will America choose to do?

The foul smells emanating from my ass... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991345)

The foul smells emanating from my ass have boosted the economy by $500 million through increased sales of air freshners!

Re:The foul smells emanating from my ass... (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43991383)

Amen the trolls are finally right. Lol.

Re:The foul smells emanating from my ass... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991625)

The foul smells emanating from my ass have boosted the economy by $500 million through increased sales of air freshners!

I think the report may have been talking about POSITIVE impact.

Slow economy? Blame President McCain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991379)

If President McCain hadn't vetoed that economic stimulus bill, we wouldn't have a slow economy.

Oh what an amazing thing! (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43991447)

An industry advocacy group discovered that their industry is really important to the US economy! I wonder how much it would have cost for them to discover that their industry is nowhere near as important as they think?

Cunundrum (2)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#43991605)

Quite a cunundrum, isn't it? Most everyone wants to see science advance, most everyone wants everyone to benefit from those scientific advances. How best to do this by encouraging both research and sharing? Still not sure a 20yr monopoly is the best method, but so far have seen very few viable alternatives presented that serve both the benefactors and benefactees.

Re:Cunundrum (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43991847)

Still not sure a 20yr monopoly is the best method, but so far have seen very few viable alternatives presented that serve both the benefactors and benefactees.

It's called public funding - scientific progress is a public good. As for the 20yr monopolies, those are supposed to cover inventions, not scientific discoveries.

Re:Cunundrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43993175)

I for one would like to see science decline. JESUS DOESN'T APPROVE SCIENCE!

Re:Cunundrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43996449)

he does approve of engineering though. Kind of hard to be a carpenter and not approve of engineering.

He turned wood into chair, and the chair was good, no wobbly legs or uncomfortable placing.

Where are the jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43991683)

OK, $31 billion contributed to the U.S. gross national product is a good thing.

But this results in only 152,000 jobs???

Re:Where are the jobs? (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#43992097)

Just back of the envelope mental math, but at $60,000 per worker (factoring benefits, training, travel, etc), that's roughly $9 billion, which doesn't seem terribly off. Add double that for supplies and equipment the workers come in contact with, so 9 + 18 = 27, which is in the same ballpark as the $31 billion. An immediate red flag suggesting BS is when you're around 50% or more away, ie the dollar number is near or greater than $40 billion or the job number is near less than ~100,000.

The medical/chemical field is a hot field with a lot of high salary jobs. A different industry will have different numbers.

That is the worst story tag I've seen in a while (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#43991693)

Someone has manged to tag this "wtfisgenomics". Really, people? I didn't know there were that many slashdot readers who were still stuck in 1994.

Re:That is the worst story tag I've seen in a whil (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#43991795)

Obviously genomics is the study of gnome genealogies. Come one people, this is basic english. :P

Re:That is the worst story tag I've seen in a whil (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#43991869)

Obviously genomics is the study of gnome genealogies

Yes, I'm quite sure that is what ... oh, what was that pesky search engine called ... told me. Damnit infoseek!

/.'s most relentlessly anti-science thread yet/ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43992171)

I've been on slashdot over a decade. I've seen young-earth creationists, anti-vaxers, global warming deniers, libertarians, and intelligent design pushers. This is the first thread where I've burned through 10 mod points down moderating the willfully ignorant science haters. Here's a news flash: those of us who do science have to have IP protection. If we don't, we don't get paid. We don't get paid, we don't do science, and scientific advances come to a screeching halt. This used to be news for nerds, stuff that matters. I guess news for nerds has degenerated to the point where if it isn't about playing xbox or some other mainstream anti-education anti-intelligence bilge slashdot is incapable of having intelligent conversation. The few of you who are correcting these idiots I wish the best, but I've just about had it.

$141 in economic output per dollar invested (1)

EdmundSS (264957) | about a year ago | (#43992179)

If the returns are really as great as they want you to believe (*), then private industry will be rushing in. The federal seed money has done its job and no more is needed. Voila!

(*) Except that the numbers they've published are gross, and it's the net that counts.

Re:$141 in economic output per dollar invested (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43993663)

If the returns are really as great as they want you to believe (*), then private industry will be rushing in.

Not if the benefits are spread out over a large part of society while the investors are left holding the bill. That's perfectly acceptable for government research, but not for private industry.

Re:$141 in economic output per dollar invested (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43993967)

165,000 people isn't that large as big corporations go. If this is generating a job or two in supermarkets all over the place, I will be surprised.

As private industry is investing tons, it would be wrong to assume these jobs are a consequence of government spending anyway. Perhaps they would spend even more if they weren't taxed so heavily. Perhaps they would spend even more if famous politicians weren't running around screaming about their "unconscionable profits".

Funny (1)

dorpus (636554) | about a year ago | (#43992449)

Yes, I've followed the boom of "bioinformatics" majors and their spectacular inability to get jobs. I've been to academic conferences that talked big about the promise of genomics, never mind all the unemployed PhDs scurrying around looking for jobs. I have read academic journals that talked big about the job prospects of such students, quoting an exceptional graduate that managed to get an assistant professorship somewhere. When I asked the writer about other graduates, they acknowledged that they had only interviewed that one student, and have no idea about how other graduates did. Why yes, "genomic medicine" has produced its laughable failures such as Bi-dil, along with other new age "biotech" companies that make up whatever random DNA and sell the "genome data" to customers, telling them that they are at risk for whatever random diseases. If you test a sugar pill on enough "ethnic groups", it will appear successful in at least one of them. And so it goes for billions of random DNA letters -- one can use the data to prove anything they like. Accordingly, real academics do not take genetics seriously.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43993707)

PhD students who wish to continue doing research are mostly unemployed in most fields. That's the natural end-state of academia, since a professor can graduate many PhD students over his career yet he only leaves a single job opening when he retires. This natural state can only be momentarily escaped during periods where funding for research is growing tremendously, since that opens many new positions during that time. We are not in such a situation now, hence the unemployment. What's really bad is that many PhDs are so focused on staying in academia and doing research that they end up accepting teaching positions that leave them with very little time for research, thus wasting highly qualified people on activities that they are not ideally suited for. But I'm just responding to a troll, aren't I, given this statement:

Accordingly, real academics do not take genetics seriously.

Genetics? (1)

rioki (1328185) | about a year ago | (#43993105)

Wait was this stuff not called genetics, like two seconds ago? Whats the difference between genetics and genomics?

I work with a cancer genomics group... (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | about a year ago | (#43994577)

Genomics booming? News to me. If anything, we've only been feeling a vast reduction in grant approval lately. We're lucky to even get the expected 1 out of 15 submissions approved. The diabetes genomic group we work with is also feeling the heat.

That's because they want to get in on the slaves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43995219)

You know, ever since they made their planned move to patent human genetics and all that?

Bad poster. (1)

azav (469988) | about a year ago | (#43995763)

It's "Genomics' Impact on US Economy Approaches $1 Trillion".

Without the apostrophe after the s, Genomics has no relationship to the US economy, since it's not possessive. Come on. This is fourth grade English.

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