Get help from the best in academic writing.

The Debate Over Gene Patenting

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

Ethical Complications of Genetic Engineering and Eugenics

Genetic engineering is currently the fastest growing and perhaps most controversial field of science. Genetic engineering is decoding and manipulating DNA to use for scientific and medical purposes. “The discovery that human cells can be grown in a petri dish has opened up breathtaking possibilities for curing disease – and a morass of ethical complications” (Allen 9).

Genetic engineering has already started to be most helpful in the field of medicine. The map of the human genome offers many cures and potentially successful medical procedures. By creating artificial chromosomes, scientists may be able to replace diseased inherited traits with functional ones. Determining the genetic make up of viruses such as the HIV virus that causes AIDS, may provide a way to combat it. Scientists can find ways to fight Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and leukemia, among others. By cultivating cells, scientists can grow human organs and tissue for people who are in need, such as diabetics requiring a pancreas to produce insulin.

With genetic engineering, scientists can breed animals and create vast fields of rice. With similar techniques, scientists can, and will eventually, clone a human being. This idea frightens most people. The problem is: where is the line between what is beneficial to humans and what could potentially be harmful?

Although genetic engineering is currently expanding rapidly, this area of study has been around for a very long time. Humans, by instinct, are always striving to better themselves and to greater develop both computer and bio- technology. Even though scientists do not know how to program DNA yet, society has already seen glimpses of the results of modifying evolution and natural human development. …

… middle of paper …

…able and practical course of action.

Works Cited

Allen, Arthur. “Brave New Frontier: Medical Research and the Debate Over What Is Life.” The Washington Post Magazine 15 Oct. 2000: 8-13, 27-32.

Caplan, Arthur L. “What is immoral about eugenics?” November 1999.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998.

Proctor, Robert. “Nazi Medicine and Public Health Policy,” Dimensions. Vol. 10, no. 2 (1996).

Public Lectures – Life in the Universe. Stephen Hawking.

Weiss, Rick. “Test-Tube Baby Born to Save Ill Sister.” Washington Post 3 Oct. 2000, final ed.: A1 .

Will There Ever Be Another You? Spec. issue of Time Magazine (10 Mar. 2000): 60-76.

Wunder, Michael. The Grafeneck Declaration on Bioethics. June 1996.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.