Cons of Gene Patenting

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Cons of Gene Patenting

As of 2010, there are 40,000 patents within the U.S. that relate to the 2,000 human genes (Wikipedia, 2011). A gene patent is when a person owns the rights to a gene and no other person can do research involving said gene. There is some controversy over whether these patents advance technology by providing scientists with a reason to produce, or if they restrict the research because of the genes patented (Debatepedia, 2011). Patents curb the discovery of cures and the creation of vaccines (Green Peace, 2004). I believe science will advance faster if people have free and unlimited access to all genes. Gene patenting should be banned because genes exist in nature and shouldn’t be owned, they suppress research, and discourage investment in genetic research (Meek, 2000).

The patenting office claims that to be eligible for a patent, the invention must exist in nature, it must be separated, and it must be useful (Devanny, 2000). Genes exist in nature and are the foundation of human life; nobody should be the ‘owner’ of them. Patents are inappropriately granted since they involve the law of nature; products of nature shouldn’t be patented (Reynolds, 2010). Genes are what we all share in the human body; a person ‘owning’ them would be disrespecting humanity (Devanny, 2000). The patent owner simply owns the gene extracted from nature and doesn’t own the genetic information encoded within that gene (Chuang, 2010). However, by allowing a gene to be patented are we involuntarily letting them run the encoded genetic information that is common to us all (Chuang, 2010)?

Another piece of evidence that proves my case is that patents suppress research. Patenting of human genes affects the whole production of drugs and vaccines, they also hurt patient care (Green Peace, 2004) (Karny, 2007). The reason for patenting a gene is that a scientist will have the credit of discovering the gene in the first place. However, if a scientist discovers a gene and...
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