Although humorous, the cartoon above presents a serious issue with gene patenting: Will it lead to a money-driven drive for patenting genes, instead of research focused on helping the public? Below, an argument is made against the existence of gene patents.

Canavan disease, a fatal genetic disease, was made identifiable by the discovery of the gene that caused the disease when present with mutations. However, Miami's Children Hospital, as sponsor of the research that discovered this gene, patented it, and targeted other labs which offered testing for the gene, since as owner of the gene, it owned all legal rights for testing of the gene. (35) Breast cancer is similarly identifiable through tests for several different genes. Myriad Genetics, which owns several of these genes, is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which claims that these patents give Myriad Genetics a monopoly over testing and limits patients' access to this testing.  In July of 2011, an appeals court ruled that while Myriad Genetics had the right to patent genes, it had no right to patent testing methods for the genes. (10) (45)
As shown in the above examples, gene patents can hinder research and patient access to genetics testing. Both U.S. and European patent offices recognize the right to patent human genes. However, it is morally and ethically wrong to patent human genes, because we all own our own bodies and genes, and it does not make sense to give ownership to someone. Also, human genes should be treated different from plant or animal genes. Genes should not be patented because they exist naturally, and are not man-made (3) Genes can have thousands of variations. How different must a gene be so that it doesn't violate a patent? This question can lead to dangerous lawsuits and possible unfair monopolies. (13)

According to its website, the American Civil Liberties Union "[works] daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country."

This cartoon attacks Myriad Genetics' patents on several breast cancer genes.

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