Rapid advances in biology and genetics are raising fresh concerns about the spreading practice of patenting human genes.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patents to at least 4,382 human genes, including genes related to Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, muscular dystrophy and other serious diseases.
“Twenty percent of the human genes are currently patented,” said Christopher Hansen , an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union , which filed a suit last month challenging six patents on two genes that are connected to tests for breast and ovarian cancer.
A gene patent gives its owner the exclusive right, for up to 20 years, to control its use for medical research, diagnosis or treatment.
“A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene,” the ACLU lawsuit protests. “As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents.”
Patent holders reply that they have a constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their inventions in order to pay the heavy costs of genetic research and development.
Though gene patents are lawful, many scientists, health professionals and patients’ organizations object that the patents are stifling research and interfering with patient care.
“Patents are meant to protect inventions, not things that exist in nature like genes in the human body,” Hansen said.
Okay this pisses me off to no end, what fucking idiot granted the corporations, patents of plants and animals that exist naturally in nature?
No one owns nature and it should be in the law to shot fuckers that say they do.