CRG Statement: Supreme Court Ruling Invalidates Gene Patents

by jeeg 13. June 2013 22:08

Today the Supreme Court issued a resounding no to the question of whether human genes can be patented.  In a unanimous decision the Court held that “a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated…the portion of the DNA isolated from its natural state sought to be patented is identical to that portion of the DNA in its natural state.”


This is a great victory for the Council for Responsible Genetics, an amicus in the landmark case, and the first NGO to call for a ban on human gene patents as far back as the 1980s; solidified in its Genetic Bill of Rights which declares:


"All people have the right to a world in which living organisms cannot be patented, including human beings, animals, plants, microorganisms and all their parts."


The patent, a tool originally created to insure that inventors could share in the financial returns and benefits deriving from the use of their inventions, has become the primary mechanism through which the private sector has advanced its claims to ownership over genes, proteins, and entire organisms. No individual, institution or corporation should be able to hold patents or claim ownership rights over genes or gene sequences, whether naturally occurring or modified.


CRG President Jeremy Gruber declared:


"The conversion of genes and gene sequences into corporate property through patent monopolies is counter to the interests of the peoples of this country and of the world. This is  particularly so because enormous  amounts of public funds have been invested in the genetic research that underlies many of these patents. The Human Genome Project alone cost U.S. taxpayers over 3 billion dollars. The public's investment in new technologies is betrayed when public interests are circumvented for private gain by these types of patents. Finally, the patenting of genes and gene        sequences poses a significant threat to human health and the innovation  necessary to address that threat. In both the U.S. and developing nations overall, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. Over 200,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with breast or ovarian cancer. Rather than accelerate research and treatment, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene patents restricted access and subsequently created barriers to the development of the vital medical and scientific information needed to advance our collective fight against a clear public health threat."


"The US Constitution states that patents are intended to ‘promote the progress of science.’ The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to allow the patenting of human genes      represented a major failure and misuse of power, and ran counter to the American  tradition. We herald the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn this misguided policy."




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