Wednesday, May 20, 2009
On Gene Patents
The past week's news about the ACLU lawsuit to combat Myriad's patents on two versions of the "breast cancer" gene has prompted me to begin to record my own thoughts and observances on the practice. Of course, I have a book-length treatment of the subject that was recently published by Wiley-Blackwell, appropriately titled: Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes, available now at major booksellers. Ironically, torrents for the book exist and there's little I can do to stop them. So much for my libertarian take on Intellectual Property. No matter, the ideas are what I want to spread, and they center around the nature of property in general, the existence of natural "commons" which cannot be "enclosed" by laws, at least not ethically, and the relations between ethics and nature.
So this is it, rather than try to swat down the misunderstandings and miscommunication about the practice of gene patenting by replying to every erroneous blog post or media article out there, I will summarize my thoughts here. I will also post updates, including news articles, and my own writings on the subject as they may appear.
For starters, here's the New York Times piece on the lawsuit: Cancer Patients Sue Over Breast Cancer Gene Patents
and here's a piece I recently published at Science Progress (before the lawsuit): How Genes are Like Plutonium
Here's an article about my talk at the University of Virginia Law School on the subject