Are genes patentable? Probably the world wants to know the answer and recently the final decisions are pending in courts of various nations. First lets look into why do we need patents? Patents honor the inventors invention and give them the right to control its distribution and other uses for a certain period only. Now the question is- should products of nature be patentable?
Probably we are becoming so much overtly proud or greedy, that we want patent of everything we find for the first time but patents are probably for invention of something new but not for discovery of a natural phenomenon. Scientist Newton first found that gravitation force exists, but it was there before he was born even, so if he had claimed patent for discovering gravitational force, probably the whole globe have to pay him for simply inhabiting on earth. If that way things work, tomorrow archaeologists might hunt back in history to identify which country might have discovered the first spark of fire to patent ‘fire’, next time you light a cigarette or even light a candle you might need to payback the patent holding nation for fire.Similarly people might start arguing and fighting for various natural resources like air, water, oil, coal, oxygen, sun, moon, tree etc.
Just imagine if the nation which first made space journey had patented that no more space journeys could have been possible other than them neither any research could have been done nor so many countries could have sent their space shuttles for research. If HIV virus gets patented no one other than the patent holder can research on this virus and simply stall the progress of science and let people suffer.
Now companies are struggling to patent genes, which is again not their invention (is present in human body for thousands of years since the beginning of the human race), they simply decoded it first. It’s alike an astronomer first finding a planet or star, should they patent those extraterrestrial discoveries. I personally call this a patent mania.
Someone tomorrow discovers a new cancer in human body, so should he/she have the right to patent that cancer; so when we get that cancer we can’t get it treated without his/her permission. Probably this is where business profit acceleration and extreme dynamism urges undermine ethics of basic human life.
Before ending this writing should mention about an American researcher known as Jonas Edward Salk, who first invented polio vaccine but never patented it. If he patented his discovery he could have earned billions of dollars but respecting humanity he didn’t patent it. While questioned in a television interview about patent of his invention he asked if we could patent the sun (link). Today the world is moving towards almost polio free state and that wouldn’t have been easy without his goodness and kindness of mind and thought.
Coming back to the recent debate of gene patentability, probably an invented diagnostic test to detect a particular gene is patentable and should be since it’s an invention but patenting the gene (whole or part) shouldn’t be acceptable since it’s our own human body part (like hand, foot,mouth, limbs, genitalia, blood, platelet, neutrophil, stomach or skin). We can’t sell our body to honor someone’s discovery. Like parents contribute to birth of their children but can’t snatch basic rights of their children similarly finding out a new structure (gene in this instance) in human body don’t surrender that body part of us to that discoverer. Why do every discovery of product of nature mean business? Let humanity prevail in humans. HUMANITY FIRST!
You may share your opinions below in the comments section. For all your health concerns please be guided by your healthcare provider.