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Sanity Prevails: US Supreme Court Rules that Human Genes are Not Eligible for Patent Protection

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

In a unanimous ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that human genes cannot be patented. The ruling invalidates the thousands of patents that have already been granted on human genes, including the patent by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA breast cancer genes which the company says no one else can research or even detect without paying it a royalty. Click here to read the complete ruling.

"Myriad did not create anything," said Justice Clarence Thomas. "To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention."

Well, exactly. This point should have been obvious to the lower courts, too, but in today's world of corporate domination over seemingly everything, gene industry lawyers were able to argue that patent protection would somehow inspire more innovation and research. "The biotechnology industry had warned that an expansive ruling against Myriad could threaten billions of dollars of investment," wrote Reuters.

But exactly the opposite is true. Gene patents restricted research and created medical monopolies that raised prices for consumers. Even USA Today seemingly gets this point, saying, "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."

The ACLU, which argued the case before the Court, said, "By invalidating these patents, the Court lifted a major barrier to progress in further understanding how we can better treat and prevent diseases."




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