Sanity prevails: US Supreme Court rules that human genes are not eligible for patent protection
fromNatural News: 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Corporate efforts to influence the Supreme Court ultimately failed
the Supreme Court upheld the patentability of human genes, it would
have unleashed a horrifying new era of corporations and universities
rushing to claim monopoly patent protection on every gene in the human
genome. Virtually no one in the media covered this angle other than
Natural News. We warned readers that everything found in nature could then be patented: blades of grass, insects, human ears, eye colors, hair colors… anything encoded with DNA.
clear that powerful forces were at work behind the scenes to try to
influence this Supreme Court decision, but they failed. Ultimately, the
court discovered a moment of unanimous sanity… something we see so
rarely that perhaps it deserves patent protection, too.
Huge loss for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries
important to note that this decision is a huge loss for the biotech and
pharmaceutical industries, both of which relentlessly seek total
domination over all forms of life on the planet through monopoly patent
protection. The biotech industry, of course, would love to patent all
seeds and food crops — even ones it hasn’t genetically engineered. And
the pharmaceutical industry would love to patent every human gene,
thereby claiming literal ownership over every human being born into the
Myriad Genetics tried every desperate argument to convince the court that human genes
should be patentable by corporations. They even rolled out a whacky
“baseball bat theory” which claims it’s an “invention” to decide where
to start and end a gene sequence:
“A baseball bat doesn’t exist until it’s isolated from a tree. But that’s still the product of human invention to decide where to begin the bat and where to end the bat.” – Myriad lawyer Gregory Castanias.
absurd argument claims that the mere deciding of which genes to snip
out of DNA strands somehow makes all genes corporate property.
Thankfully, the court did not agree with the baseball bat theory. As
Chief Justice John Roberts explained:
“The baseball bat is quite
different. You don’t look at a tree and say, well, I’ve cut the branch
here and cut it here and all of a sudden I’ve got a baseball bat. You
have to invent it.”
Huge victory for humanity
this decision is a tremendous victory for all humankind because it
prevents the power-hungry, evil-bent medical and biotech corporations
from claiming ownership over genetic sequences that already occur in
This ruling means the biotech industry cannot patent
common plants and animals, either. They can’t patent human body parts or
human gene sequences. Yes, the industry can still patent synthetically-created genes, said the Supreme Court, but that’s something they would actually have to create rather than merely discover in an already-existing organism.
ruling also means that men and women will have access to far less
expensive testing for gene sequences in their own bodies. Currently,
women who want to test themselves for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes must pay
as much as $4,000 for the test due to the monopoly “ownership” of those
genes by Myriad Genetics.
But now that the Supreme Court has ruled such patents are invalid,
prices for the test should drastically fall over time as competition
enters the picture. Ultimately, the test could eventually be offered for
as little as $100.
The ruling also means that other companies
can conduct research on those genes without first seeking permission
from Myriad. This will actually spur more innovation, potentially
leading to more advanced genetic analysis tests that might help people
better understand their health risks (and hopefully encourage them to
change their diets and lifestyle choices to avoid expressing those
In a world that seems increasingly dominated by corporate
monopolies and biotechnology insanity, this ruling is a breath of fresh
air. It confirms that corporations cannot patent naturally-occurring
things which have been in existence for hundreds of thousands of years,
and it confirms that when you have a child through an act of genetic
replication, corporations cannot force you to pay royalties for your own
This is a decision of fundamental freedom, which is why
I’m shocked the court actually ruled this way. This must be one of those
rare moments of sanity in a Supreme Court that otherwise seems intent
on destroying human liberty, dignity and justice.
Decision shows the important work of ACLU in protecting human rights against corporate domination
We must all thank the ACLU on this decision, as it was the ACLU which argued this to victory.
the last 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on
thousands of human genes, including genes associated with colon cancer,
Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and many other devastating
diseases. The status quo meant that companies controlling gene patents
had the right to stop all other scientists from examining, studying,
testing, and researching our genes,” the ACLU wrote in apress release.
celebrate the Court’s ruling as a victory for civil liberties,
scientific freedom, patients, and the future of personalized medicine.
It also demonstrates the power of creating alliances and fighting for
the public interest. The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed the
case four years ago on behalf of twenty plaintiffs, including
organizations representing over 150,000 medical professionals,
geneticists, breast cancer and women’s health advocacy groups, and
patients. Few thought we had a chance against the decades-long Patent
Office practice as well as the entrenched industry position. But
litigation can be a strong tool in producing change, never more than
when diverse communities come together. Here, the medical, scientific,
and patient communities united, and were soon joined by many others,
eventually including the U.S. government. We honor the contributions
everyone made to our success today
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