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Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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In 1984, Dr. Golde was able to patent a patient's cells, John Moore, to a
pharmaceutical company netting Golde $1.5 million dollars. Moore had never
Golde permission to do anything with his cells, but even in a court of law he
not win his case. The California Supreme Court ruled in 1990, "they [cells]
have come from his body, and they might have contained his DNA, but that
mean they were his" (Hylton 109). This ruling proved that Moore did not own
body. Moore has his body to use and live with each day, but he does not have
right to prevent others from using it. Hylton continues by stating that it
is too late to
get patents on most of people's bodies because over a thousand have already
sold. Most people have no idea that this kind of atrocity has occurred on
that this has not been a publicized debate. Now that people are becoming
they want that sense of knowing that no one else has access to their body
their knowledge. It is a matter of privacy and safety. People want to feel
safe and in
control and one of the few things people can control is themselves. However,
scientists have showed that they have the control instead.
In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Congress and overruled the U.S.
Constitution by making it legal to patent a whole species of bacterium.
the Supreme Court declaring a species of animal to be an invention. Here was
Supreme Court writing a new definition of life" (Hylton 117). After the 1980
another patent was able to slip through the cracks that patented mice, pigs,
monkeys and cattle that were exposed to oncogene. These developments have
progressing for years. Soon children will start to believe that life is an
according to Jeremy Rifkin who speaks out against these issues. He now works
within the system trying to put a stop to patents that deal with human-animal
hybrids. Rifkin is trying to get a patent that would allow him to stop
doing research with hybrids.
A major factor that has granted many of these patenting projects is
behind it. Businesses want to find genes first and are willing to back
to achieve that goal. J. P. Morgan's research report shows that with their
buy in Incyte, they now have a "large, very valuable, and largely
(Hylton 121). This is not surprising of course that major corporations want
to cash in when some discovery is finally made. By the companies supporting
projects through funds they are helping take away a person's right to their
They are just as guilty as are the scientists doing the patenting.
Another article discussing the gene patenting was written by Andrew
states that the biggest objection to gene patenting is that it is part of
heritage. Sheard points out that religion is rarely used in this debate, but
more of a
spiritual aspect is used. "A common misconception is that a patent confers
kind of property rightâ€¦whereas in reality it merely enables the patentee to
unauthorized commercial dealings in the invention"(Sheard 2). Basically the
is giving permission to an invention, which is part of the argument of
permission was never asked for.
Much of the patenting was done without anyone knowing about it. If it
known people would have had the chance to voice their opinions on the
Instead they were not involved in the decision making and are now hurriedly
find loopholes to fix the intrusion.
Sheard says that religion is rarely brought up, but morality plays an
part in the debate. Many people do not believe that it is right to play
feel that by patenting genes scientists are trying to play with forces that
not be playing with. The intentions of the scientists are not clearly stated
public. We are not aware of the positive or negative aspects of their line
of work. We
do not have the power to make them tell us what they are doing. The only
in the matter is the government, and they have already granted permission by
allowing the patenting in the first place. The only way to change patenting
change the laws that govern the patenting.
Sheard's concern in his article is much more about the debate of patents
chemical compounds. He discusses that the industry has pointed out that
of human genes are no different than chemical molecule patents from nature.
believes that this is the "wider context of the debate" (4). He argues that
the issue is
the appropriateness of patents being granted and enforced. Sheard's article
and brings up new important debates. However, not once is the debate of
addressed. Sheard makes a good argument: "much of the debate is spirited;
of it is hostile" (1). Much of the hostility can be attributed to the fact
that the public
was not fully aware of the activities going on in the patenting process.
Our obliviousness has allowed science to be sold for a price and we
the right to our bodies in the process. They can use it to achieve any of
thoughts or wishes. Scientists have already does this by patenting thousands
body parts. The only way that this situation can be properly fixed is if
begin to ask permission for what they are doing. So if the question that has
who owns this body, the answer is that we do. In that case they must ask
permission to experiment on parts of our bodies.
For example, in the case of John Moore, he was asked repeatedly to
contract by his doctor Golde to give up any and all rights as a patient.
Moore did not
sign those papers, but Golde still had the ability to patent his cells.
Moore did not
give permission and therefore, Golde should not have been able to go any
his experimenting. Patients should have the choice to either give permission
not give permission on situations that involve their body. If permission is
then there is not a problem, but if permission is not granted, than science
have the right to go any further.
Gene patenting probably has numerous positive aspects, but one of the
aspects is that it has been accomplished without the knowledge or the
the people involved. This negative aspect has put a dark cloud over the
world and our government. Science is supposed to help better the world and
government is supposed to protect those in the world, but neither do their
Science has found loopholes to get through the rigorous test of getting a
1970, Congress excluded bacteria in the Plant Patent Act, but this soon led
protection of a bacterium under law ten years later.
This travesty resulted in the steady increase of patents, which soon
human's cells. Humans did not give permission for scientists to do this.
should have had a choice. When given a choice in a matter, people are much
obliged to help, but when not consulted whatsoever, people will tend to feel
Scientists should offer a contract for patients to sign as always and they
required by law to adhere to whatever that patient might choose to do with
We do own our own bodies and we should be asked for permission before it is
Hylton, Wil S. "Who Owns This Body?" Speculations An Anthhology for Reading,
Writing, and Research. Landrum, Jason, Matthew Wynn Sivils, and
Squires, eds. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 2003. 107-125
Sheard, Andrew. "Patenting human genes: Reflections on the public debate."
of Commercial Biotechnology 8 (2002): 1-6.
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