Monday, November 27, 2006

Patenting the genetic alphabet

Michael Crichton's next novel, appropriately titled Next, is about the abuse of gene patents, so Crichton is giving interviews about the subject. "Major hepatitis C and HIV genes and various diabetes genes are all owned," he tells Parade. "Researchers working on those diseases must worry about getting permission and paying high fees. ... It's OK to own a treatment or test for a disease, but no one should own a disease."

In agreement is Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and an ethics adviser to the Human Genome Project. She tells Parade, "Gene patenting is like someone owning the alphabet and charging you each time you speak."

Here's the brief Parade article, which includes a "Genetic Bill of Rights" that's written, oddly enough, in the second person.

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