Justices rule human genes cannot be patented

USA Today | June 13, 2013

By Richard Wolf

Comment From Old-Thinker News: This issue is not over by any means. With the rise of synthetic biology, organisms and genes can be created using a computer and “programmable” organic material. The supreme court decision allows for synthetic genes to be patented. By creating subtle mutations, the gene is no longer “natural” and thus can be patented. Monsanto has been doing this with its contested Genetically Modified seeds for many years. Fidelity Investments says that in 50 years, artificially created species will outnumber natural life 50 to 1.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that human genes cannot be patented, a decision with both immediate benefits for some breast and ovarian cancer patients and long-lasting repercussions for biotechnology research.

The decision represents a victory for cancer patients, researchers and geneticists who claimed that a single company’s patent raised costs, restricted research and sometimes forced women to have breasts or ovaries removed without sufficient facts or second opinions.

But the court held out a lifeline to Myriad Genetics, the company with an exclusive patent on the isolated form of genes that can foretell an increased genetic risk of cancer. The justices said it can patent a type of DNA that goes beyond extracting the genes from the body.

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