June 28, 2013
Patenting Genes Rejected
Patenting genes has actually been an issue for a while now. It has only recently become a media storm because people now understand a little bit about what is really at stake when discussing the idea of corporations owning a gene. Just a little refresher, a gene is essentially a working subunit of DNA. So, these genes have specific jobs that they perform within our body to ensure that everything works properly.
Let us really take a look at this situation for a minute and how it could have impacted science. Consider the idea that a gene is actually a subunit of DNA, so it is a piece of a person essentially. What this tells us is that if the ruling were to go to corporations, a corporation could in theory own a piece of you. The worst part of this is the fact that if a corporation were to own that gene, they would control everything that happens to that gene. Anything that involves doing research on this gene would belong to that corporation. Anything new that would come from this gene would belong to that corporation. Any possible type of gene therapy that involves this gene would belong to this corporation. This corporation could, in theory, do absolutely nothing with the gene and keep the human public from researching this gene and what role it plays within the human body and it’s development.
Now, let’s look at what possibilities there are now, considering all genes are free game for anyone to research. The possibilities are essentially endless at this point. Like programmers giving out code, scientists are free to use the information that has been gathered about these genes as the genes don’t belong to a single person or entity. People that need gene therapy have options of going to different companies, rather than just one that monopolizes the market by owning the gene. A researcher could find new and exciting process that involves this gene.
Since watching a video about this issue three years back at a Phi Theta Kappa convention, I have been hoping to hear that it would finally be settled in courts. The simple fact that a company can own a gene and control a person’s choice to get treated is simply unethical and with the help of the Supreme Court, it is now not allowed. There should be no reason that a person can’t get the care they need if they are sick. A company has no right to deny a person’s right to extend their life.
I am personally very happy about this ruling and it opens many new doors for science to do research into. It will also give more people the opportunity to research into specific genes that may had once been thought to be off limits due to patents. It will give people options when being treated and it will provide with cheaper alternatives to the therapies that exist today. It is an overall good outcome for the general population and will open the world to new gene possibilities.
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