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Why does this matter? While academic researchers can still use CRISPR for free, companies hoping to harness the gene editing tool to fight disease, solve agricultural problems, or for myriad other potential applications, may have to pay not one, but both institutions, a hefty fee. It’s a decision has caused some to some to wonder whether the rights to such revolutionary technology don’t really belong to a third party: the people.

On Thursday, the non-profit group Knowledge Ecology International plans to file a request to the Department of Health and Human Services asking the federal government to step in and ensure that CRISPR remains accessible to anyone who wants to use it. At the root of the petition is the question of whether one group can really own exclusive rights to technology that applies to not only all the genes in the human body, but every gene known to mankind.

“This is a fundamental technology,” James Love, the organization’s executive director, told Gizmodo. “At the end of the day there’s a legal obligation to make sure it’s available to the public on reasonable terms.”

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