Who Owns You? 20% of the Genes in Your Body are Patented (Video)

Who Owns You?Drew Halley writes on Singularity Hub:

Here’s a disconcerting thought: for the past thirty years, genes have been patentable. And we’re not just talking genetically modified corn — your genes, pretty much as they exist in your body, can and have been patented. The US government reports over three million gene patent applications have been filed so far; over 40,000 patents are held on sections of the human genome, covering roughly 20% of our genes.

Upset? You’re not alone. Critics argue that the patents stifle potential research into disease, keep new treatments off the market, and bring in serious money to Big Pharma — all by exercising property claims that shouldn’t exist. After all, genes aren’t inventions, which are patentable — they’re discoveries, which aren’t.

Singularity Hub recently interviewed Dr. David Koepsell … His book Who Owns You? is currently being adapted into a documentary film, including interviews with experts like James Watson and Tim Hubbard. Check out the preview:

Read More on Singularity Hub

8 Comments on "Who Owns You? 20% of the Genes in Your Body are Patented (Video)"

  1. Ah big pharma at work again. It's scary that they can literally own the blueprint to life

  2. Glad to see a book like this emerge. Hopefully it becomes a source for debate and helps push the issue back to the limelight. If you asked most people if discoveries (not inventions/creations) should be patented…and very specifically the genes that exist in their own bodies…they would object to something that insane.

  3. Does this mean we'll have to pay licensing fees before we can have babies?

    • airborne11 | Aug 18, 2010 at 3:27 pm |

      That sounds like an excellent idea to me…people would really have to want to be parents in order to do so!

  4. The patenting of life is a really pernicious thing, that will only become more problematic with time. It upsets me that more people don't pay attention to these really huge issues, that ultimately are going to effect millions of lives.

    Another issue is simply that of consent. There's a lot of “bio=prospecting” going on with these genetic research companies, where they are doing crap like going into remote native villages in places like the Amazon and finding some isolated tribe, telling them that they are helping to cure something, when their real purpose is take their blood and patent some unique genetic feature. These are real vampires, people.

    And it doesn't just happen there. One guy in Seattle who was there for cancer treatments, had a blood sample taken, and later found out that a drug company was profiting off of a gene that was discovered IN HIM from that blood sample. They never informed him that his biosamples were going to be used in that fashion, and frankly, he's a little pissed, and feels violated, an I can't say as I blame him.

    So when your doctor asks for a sample of anything, you should demand that he sign a consent form agreeing that your sample will NOT be used in research without your consent, or that any feature of your genetic code is patented or profited from without your express consent.

  5. airborne11 | Aug 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm |

    That sounds like an excellent idea to me…people would really have to want to be parents in order to do so!

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