This is a cause that the social right and the political left, liberals and conservatives, and everyone in between can agree upon: Don’t permit human genes to be patented. Genes are not human inventions. Hence, they should not be subject to patent protection (as opposed, say, the method of identifying genes). And there is a lawsuit making that very point that has been supported by people of varied political and cultural persuasion. And now the leftish Center for Genetics and Society has weighed in. From its press release:
Public interest, social justice, and women’s health advocates filed a “friend of the court” brief [PDF] in support of a groundbreaking lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Patent Foundation challenging the constitutionality of human gene patents. “Patents on genes and gene variations increase health disparities by denying women information about their own bodies,” said Susan Berke Fogel, JD, of the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research. “Furthermore, genes are part of the common heritage of humanity – they carry information about our biological histories and link us to each other and to future generations. No one should own that which belongs to all of us.”
Last week, the Center for Genetics and Society, the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, Generations Ahead, and the National Women’s Health Network filed an amicus brief in federal court in the Southern District of New York. “A century of patent law prohibits patents on products and laws of nature,” added Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, of the Center for Genetics and Society. “Genes are like new minerals found in the earth, plants growing in the wild, or the laws of gravity and relativity: They are phenomena of nature and cannot be patented.”
I was once a “card carrying member of the ACLU” as the saying goes, having soured on the group long ago. But in this instance they are right. How nice that people and groups of diverse persuasions can agree. This is how runaway Big Biotech can be stopped!