The Debate Over Gene Patenting

2724 Words6 Pages

In June 2000, the publicly funded Human Genome Project (HGP) and the private firm Celera Genomics Inc. announced that they had completed sequencing the human genome. This unprecedented accomplishment is expected to enable doctors to diagnose, treat and even prevent numerous genetic diseases. As these two entities worked on sequencing the human genome, there was also a separate and less publicized race to patent as many human genes as possible.

The patenting issue gained some attention when President Bill Clinton and Prime Minster Tony Blair jointly called for the release of raw genetic data into the public domain (CQ 405). I will argue in this paper that the aggressive competition among biotechnology firms to patent genes is impeding development being made in biomedical sector. The main problem with patenting genes is that companies are filing patents for strands of DNA they discover without fully knowing their functions (Kluger 51). The current attitude in the biotechnology sector seems to be, to gain exclusive access to as much of the human genome as possible first and then figure out the functions of the genes later. Despite the questionable attitude in the biotechnology sector, the current patent laws are allowing companies to continue with their practices. The patents laws are not able to deal with new complications that arise of from patenting genes. As I will argue in this paper, there is a pressing need to modify these laws to permit the HGP and its consequences to benefit everyone rather than lining the pockets of few corporations.

Patents have always represented a mutually beneficial a relationship between inventor and public. The inventor gets 17 years of basic monopoly on his invention so that he ...

... middle of paper ...

...while not impeding progress in bio-medical technology.

Works Cited

Bethell, Tom, Boastful Genome Science, The American Spectator v.33 no 7 (Sept 2000)

Bobrow, Martin, Patents in a Genetic Age, Nature (Feb 15, 2001)

Doll, John, Talking Gene Patents, Scientific American (August 2000)

Hildyard, Nicholas., No Patents on Life, Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy v 15 (Spring 2000)

Kaiser, Jocelyn, Renewed Fight Over Gene Patent Policy, (April 11, 1997) Kluger, Jeffery, Who Owns Our Genes, Time. (Jan 11, 1999)

Regalado, Antonio, The Great Gene Grab, Technology Review, Cambridge Mass. 1998 v 103 Sept/Oct 2000

Shulman, Seth, Toward Sharing the Genome, Technology Review, v.103 (Sept/Oct 2000)

A Double Edged Sword, Canada and the World Backgrounder v66 (Oct 2000) Human Genome Project (2000), Congressional Quarterly

In this essay, the author

  • Argues that patenting human genes is an egregious misuse of the system and a theft of human biological heritage.
  • Analyzes the human genome project, congressional quarterly, and a double edged sword, canada and the world backgrounder v66.
Show More
Open Document