(NaturalNews) In astonishing news, a U.S. judge has struck down seven patents on human genes that were “owned” by corporations. This news is sending shockwaves through the biotech industry, which claims it currently owns 20% of your human genetic code!
As NaturalNews readers already know, corporations and universities right now claim intellectual property ownership over roughly twenty percent of your genetic code. This absurdity has occurred due to bizarre operations of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which has handed corporations intellectual property monopolies over everything ranging from human genes to animals and seeds. Monsanto’s “ownership” of genetically modified seed crops, for example, was only made possible by the patent office’s willingness to grant the corporation intellectual property ownership over seeds.
I have long argued that granting patents on seeds, genes and medicines is a violation of natural law. In 2007, for example, I wrote an article entitled ” Corporate Greed, Intellectual Property Laws and the Destruction of Human Civilization” (http://www.naturalnews.com/022096.html) in which I argued that the granting of such patents is a threat to not just human freedom but also the future of life on earth.
What happens when corporations, for example, wish to start collecting royalties on the human genes that you are copying when you reproduce by having children? The mere act of conceiving a child makes you a patent law violator… a criminal engaged in genetic piracy under U.S. law. This may sound patently absurd, if you’ll excuse the expression, but it is precisely what has been held as true under current U.S. patent law.
You can’t patent things created by Mother Nature
Fortunately, things are beginning to shift. Earlier this week, a federal judge struck down patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These are the genes used by many doctors to attempt to predict breast cancer risk. Of course, the very idea that genes alone can determine your cancer risk is provably false, but that’s another story altogether. For the point of this story, just keep in mind that lots of women have their DNA tested for the presence of these BRCA genes in order to (they think) determine their breast cancer risk.
But one corporation called Myriad Genetics holds seven patents on these genes. Although the patents are shrouded in lawyer’s language, this company essentially claims to own these genes as if it had invented them! Furthermore, this company held that the mere act of testing for these genes was a violation of their patents.
Now, a more sensible person might instantly recognize that your genes existed long before Myriad Genetics came around. Depending on your frame of belief, your genes were either created by God or by Mother Nature, and to grant monopoly IP ownership over those genes to a corporations seems absurd beyond all reason.
But no: This corporation and its lawyers argued with a straight face that they alone effectively owned your BRCA genes and that no one could even test for the presence of those genes without paying them a royalty!
United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet disagreed with the patents in his 152-page decision (see NY Times PDF file at http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packag… ) which strikes down seven patents formerly belonging to Myriad Genetics. This victory was achieved, in part, by the American Civil Liberties Union which helped challenge the BRCA patents last year. The ACLU argued (quite correctly, in my view) that human genes are products of nature and should never be owned by Man.
As state in a NY Times article (source below), an ACLU lawyer explained it like this: “The human genome, like the structure of blood, air or water, was discovered, not created. There is an endless amount of information on genes that begs for further discovery, and gene patents put up unacceptable barriers to the free exchange of ideas.”
Striking back at biotech
If this decision stands, the resulting consequences could be hugely damaging to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, both of which depend on government-granted monopolies (patents) to lock in their corporate profits. Biotech companies have been ramping up research on gene-based diseases for a decade or more, hoping to cash in on the genetic monopolies that would guarantee them profits for all sorts of human diseases that they could tie to “genetic disorders.”
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And did you know that so-called “genetic breakthroughs” are often completely bogus?
NIH researchers, meanwhile, are hiding their financial ties to drug companies: