• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

"Through new technologies, all plants, animals, micro-organisms and human beings, down to their individual genes",[1] are potential resources to be utilised or exploited.

Extracts from this document...


"Through new technologies, all plants, animals, micro-organisms and human beings, down to their individual genes",1 are potential resources to be utilised or exploited. Many people and organisations are actively exploring these resources. This essay will examine the implications of patents applying to genes and the advantages and disadvantages of gene patenting, and present a possible solution. "Patent laws vary according to jurisdiction, but most share a number of key features. On award of a patent, the holder is given the exclusive right to use that invention for up to twenty years in exchange for details of the invention being on the public register, ensuring eventual spreading of all the knowledge. Any other person wishing to use that invention can only do so legally with the permission of the patent holder, usually on some payment of royalties or licence fees."2 It is only recently that products from humans and/or human genetic materials have been accepted suitable for patent.3 "Before a patent can be granted the invention must satisfy a number of criteria: it must not be obvious or a natural phenomenon and it must be both new and useful."4 Although products of nature cannot be patented [O'Reilley v Morse5], natural products can if they are in some way different from the initial source. ...read more.


Myriad Genetics, an American company based in Salt Lake City, owns the patents on two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 that are believed to increase the risk of breast cancer developing. The patents mean that when Myriad begins operating commercially in Australia, women with breast cancer, or a family history of the disease, could be forced to pay thousands of dollars for genetic testing that they can now receive free in public hospitals. In the United States, Myriad charges $US2600 ($A5120) to test for mutations on the genes. "The head of medical genetics at the University of Newcastle, Rodney Scott, said that the increasing commercialisation of genetic information could mean that only the rich would be able to afford tests of this kind."13 Companies will sometimes invest money in non-profit organizations for research, the funding company can then patent the gene; this is an advantage for the company that funds the research as they receive credit and returns on their investment. Although, often public funding is used, so it is not necessary for other private funding. It is a disadvantage for society with these companies funding these organisations as it prevents these genes from being scientifically advanced because it limits who can research the gene without paying patents and will be discussed further. ...read more.


If this trend continues, there are problems with loss of control over a humans cells or genes, and also whether or not it constitutes a human rights abuse. Ultimately, the cells and DNA of a body constructs what a person is, the description of a person. If the current patent laws were to be changed so that human materials or human genetic material cannot be patented, like a general product from nature, it would decrease the funding from private investors, but funding would still be available from the public, which is still a large portion of funding. 1 P. Commandeur (1994) "Symposium: Patents, Genes and Butterflies" Biotechnology and Development Monitor No. 21 pp 3-4 2 http://www.law.ecel.uwa.edu.au/elawjournal/Volume%201/Articles%20Vol_1/biopiracy.pdf 3 ibid 4 J.D. Isaacs (1998) "Gene Patenting: The current state of DNA patenting and the stance of those shaping the field." p 1-2 (http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~jisaaces/patent.html) 5 O'Reilley v Morse 15 How 62 112-121 (1854) 6 Hartranft v Wiegmann 121 U.S. 609, 615 (1887) 7 Diamond v Chakrabarty 447 U.S. 303 (1980) 8 Such a cell line is one that, under laboratory conditions, will grow and multiply indefinitely. 9 Moore v Regents of the University of California 793 P.2d 479 Cal. (1990) 10 Op cit Williams Jones p 40 11 Op cit Moore v Regents of the University of California 12 Op cit Williams-Jones pp 11-13 13 http://www.nswccl.org.au/issues/breast_cancer.php 14 ibid ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Genetics, Evolution & Biodiversity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Genetics, Evolution & Biodiversity essays

  1. The Biology of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and the Social Implications

    When really speaking, the organisations that spend the money should be answering questions relating to why there is not enough support. It does give the impression, however, that when support is low or money is limited, then organisations will hold the Government responsible.

  2. Free essay

    Outline the impact on the evolution of plants and animals of: ...

    * The Dinosaurs had access to most of the resources and so mammals were unable to reproduce into different niches. * When mass extinction of dinosaurs occurred, the mammals quickly diversified to take advantage of all the available resources, such as plants, or other organisms.

  1. Investigating the effect of trampling on salt marsh

    The ranging poles were put in to the ground, next the clinometer gun was pointed from one pole to the other at the equal height (using the colour gradation), this way the angle of the slope between the poles could also be measured. * Soil samples from Non-trampled (Area 1)

  2. Recombinant DNA, genetically engineered DNA prepared in vitro by cutting up DNA molecules and ...

    (RNA, along with DNA, is a carrier of genetic information.) Agricultural advances are also expected from genetic engineering. Some of the earliest recombinant organisms made were a soil bacterium that was induced to make a toxin against a worm that destroys corn roots, a bacterium engineered to make potato and

  1. Oncogenes are genes that cause cancer.

    In some instances the instructions include a command that converts the host cell to a cancerous state. The existence of tumor viruses was first suspected at the turn of the century. A critical discovery came in 1910, when Peyton Rous of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research showed that a

  2. Cell Theory - Discuss the theory that living organisms are composed of cells.

    Similarities: cell membrane, cytoplasm, ribosomes, nuclear material, cell wall (plant cells), enzymes Differences: in prokaryotic cells the DNA is naked and contained in the cytoplasm while in eukaryotic cells the DNA is a double helix and is contained in a nuclear envelope.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work