Just Say No to Gene Patenting

by updated 2010/10/31

GeneticsThe idea that private companies could get a patent on genes they discover has always bothered me, (along with a lot of other people).  Discovering a gene or anything else that exists in nature should not entitle the discoverer to any control over how any knowledge of that gene is used.  Of course most corporations working in this field oppose limiting patents, claiming that such limitation will remove the incentive to do research necessary to medical or general scientific progress.  I have always believed the opposite.  I think not allowing patents on genes and other naturally occurring entities opens up research and progress to all researchers rather than limiting it to the original discoverer.  Companies can be successful, and profits made, by developing products and procedures resulting from genetic discoveries without having to patent the actual gene.

The NY Times has a good article on gene patenting and the U.S. Government’s new position.  One disturbing fact highlighted in the Times article is that already 20% of human genes have been patented.  If the Federal Court agrees that gene patenting is not legal, I wonder if the patents on those 20% of human genes will be, or even could be, revoked?

Will Sig
1 Ruth

Should be, definitely. The Supreme Court decision that allowed Monsanto and other companies like it to patent life should be overturned, thrown out, whatever they do. And while they’re at it they should reverse the Citizen’s United decision too–the Republicans are claiming the midterm elections were a repudiation of Obama’s policies (that have saved us from a second Great Depression, among other things), when in actuality they were a casualty of the right-wing fearmongering financed by private corporations. I mean, seriously, does anyone really think “corporate personhood” is a good idea? As far as I can tell the only ones who do are the corporations that benefit from it.

Campaign finance reform is an idea that is way overdue. Unfortunately with the current makeup of Congress it ain’t gonna happen. Maybe 2012, we’ll see–hopefully by then buyer’s remorse will have kicked in and voters will, as one Senatorial candidate put it during the campaign, “throw the bums out!”
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2 Anna

To me it looks like sometimes if there is money maker in the future, we allow it. Its wrong. Anna :)

PS I just wanted to conclude my visit with #400th post.
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3 Will

Hi Anna – Amazing! 400 comments. One of my first and most cherished commentators. Thanks!

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4 Anna

Thanks Will
(smile :) )

Anna :)
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5 John Hunter

They definitely can, and should, be revoked. It was bad law to patent them in the first place. Unfortunately in a number of ways (including patenting life) we have made some very bad decisions relating to copyrights, patents and taking of the public good to create benefits to private parties. http://engineering.curiouscatblog.net/2007/02/13/patenting-life-a-bad-idea/
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6 Will

Hi John – We are all on the same page on this one. It seems like the public is divided into two camps. Those, like us, that are outraged and all the rest who don’t care one way or another. I hear no support for this other than from the lawyers and companies that stand to benefit.

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