Tag Archives: patenting the human genome

Should I Patent Myself?

My previous rant about the evil Micro$oft’s policy of not allowing used games to play on their new Xbox 360 got me pondering a rather disturbing question. Should I patent myself – before someone else does? I have patented my writing in a way by registering my web address and publishing my writings. Again though, I don’t technically own my web address. I am registered as the current owner according to icann.org.

OK, how on earth did I make THAT mental leap? Lemme ‘splain please. For years now certain corporations and individuals are making mega bucks running around getting patents on everything from web site names, to grains of rice, to amino acids and genes found in the human body. Yes sir, right this very minute you may be sitting there peacefully unaware that some research company holds a patent to components of your physical body.

For those of us who have been web masters or web mistresses, in my case, we are familiar with website campers who perch like buzzards, waiting to jump in and grab ownership of a domain name if the current owner forgets to renew their annual subscription in time. There are many who make a living doing this. All they do is lurk around all day waiting for someone to flub up.

Typically the buzzards target popular web sites that are big money makers. They hold the website “hostage” until the rightful owner coughs up a large chunk of change to get their website back. Usually itty bitty not-for-profit personal blog sites are safe, but it’s a good idea to make sure you keep your website registration up to date. Better that then wake up one fine morning to find that your site got snatched out from under you while you slept. If this happens, you will definitely know it. Your former site will now be a huge list of things for sale, including of course, your domain name. Everything from butter churns to used Russian missile silos.

Patenting grains of rice, wheat, etc. really gets me going. When a large farming corporation does this they can storm in and target nearby small family farmers for “patent violations.” What really happened is that Mother Nature sent a honeybee across the invisible property lines to pollinate plants in adjacent fields. The small farmer was just minding his own business growing his crops, not skulking around in the night stealing patented grains. People have lost their farms to food corporations with big pockets and powerful lawyers because of this practice.

Patenting parts of the human body is particularly scary. The biggest example so far of the debate and outrage about this practice came from patenting the human genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. These are genetic markers that indicate a woman’s likelihood of developing breast or ovarian cancer. The company that owned the patents was charging exorbitant fees for testing women for these genes. Nice little money-making scheme there.

Interesting reads on this subject are: Human Gene Patenting: Yes, Companies Can Own Your DNA and Laws of nature are unpatentable

It’s all confusing to me though. It seems to me that since I was born into this body, I own it, and all the accompanying genes there in. Oh well, on a metaphysical level, I only lease this body for a possible 80 to 100 years or so, until I’m finished with it. Then it reverts back to its original owner.

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