Thursday, August 1, 2013

Humanity cannot be owned

Gene Patenting — The Supreme Court Finally Speaks

In light of recent resolution of US Supreme Court on gene patenting, beyond technicalities, the most important is the final decision. All nine Justices of the Court agreed that the segments of DNA that make up human genes are not patentable subject matter. The Myriad case has raised expectations, now the business model is more clear than yesterday, at least in US. However, nobody talks about those patents already acknowledged and what it happens.
The best summary is in the NEJM article:
The Myriad decision will be an important symbol for those who seek to foster scientific discovery by protecting and expanding the public domain. It also has symbolic resonance with the ideal that our common humanity cannot be owned. The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights declares the human genome to be “the heritage of humanity” and that “the human genome in its natural state shall not give rise to financial gains.”
In Europe the patentability of genetic materially is legally protected by the EU's Biotech Directive, which holds that "biological material which is isolated from its natural environment or produced by means of a technical process" may be patentable "even if it previously occurred in nature." FP says: European firms may now have a lot more leeway than their American counterparts.
Does this make any sense? We should start a review process of genetic patents legislation immediately.