PATENTING OF GENES, PLANTS,
All imbalances will be gone, longevity assured. We will have a race of
men . . . test-tube-bred . . . incubator-born . . . superb and sublime.
Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
There will be no patents on monsters while I am Commissioner.
US Patent Commissioner Bruce Lehman, 1998
|Patents and Life||245|
|The Human Genome Project||247|
|Patenting of ESTs||248|
|Patenting of Animals and Plants||252|
|In the USA||252|
|In the EPO||252|
|The Biotechnology Patenting Directive||253|
|Ordre Public and Morality||256|
|Can Patent Office Examiners be Judges of Morality?||258|
|Patents for Life--from Bacteria to Oncomice||258|
|Why are Patents being Targeted?||260|
In the previous chapter we discussed from a purely scientific and legal point of view the patenting of biotechnological inventions, including DNA sequences and micro-organisms. In this chapter we shall go on to consider the patenting of DNA sequences which are complete human genes or fragments thereof, as well as the patenting of higher organisms, including plants and animals. Here we can no longer stay at the objective level of scientific findings and patent laws, but must consider wider issues of ethics, social policy, and politics.
Many persons, for a wide variety of reasons, are opposed to the granting of patents for living creatures, and the same persons often consider that someone who patents a human gene somehow acquires control of human life, or