The article is based on the raging debate as to whether or not to patent ones’ genes while also considering the medical complications that may come out of the process. The author begins by asking a rather rhetoric question as if expecting readers sympathy and evoke emotions attached to the value of life, before providing an opinion based answer. According to him, gene patent can be catastrophic, a fatal state that may be avoided if the process “is not granted. ” The author voices his objection to gene patent by explaining that it may deter medical research and may also “slow the pace of medical advancement on deadly diseases.
” These allegations are supported by presupposition that the legal owner of a gene patent may scheme to profit out of it by asking for exorbitant fees for genes. In a different tone, the author acknowledges that the patent holder may still ask lower fee but in a quick rejoinder states that the “the patent holder may block any competitor’s test. ” This situation is further complicated by the fact that permission must be sought from the authorities before one can be allowed to donate a gene for research.
The blame over the controversial issue is heaped on the supposed gene patent law enforcers; the United States Patent Office. The author claims that the agency “misinterpreted Supreme Court rulings and some years ago began — to the surprise of everyone, including scientists decoding the genome — to issue patents on genes. ” To put more emphasis on the article, the author offers a detailed analysis of facts about genes. It is revealed that human beings usually have similar genes which also exist in some animals, a situation which explains as “the common heritage of all life on earth.
” The author uses this argument to reject the gene patenting, an impossibility that is comparable to an attempt to patent “eagles or gravity. ” The effect of gene patent have been very catastrophic hence the major concern given that its support is a kin to equating genes to “human inventions” , yet they are, “features of the natural world. ” This argument implies that implementation of gene patents would be counterproductive to innovations since they can “be used to block innovation, and hurt patient care.
” The author further illustrate his argument by giving an example of Canavan disease that affect children’s nervous system and inhibit them form moving their limbs which had “no test to tell parents if they were at risk. ”, before well wishers contribution of money and tissue towards a research in 1993 that offered solution to the disorder. The author also criticizes the supporters of gene patent’s argument that is easy to find and afford patent licenses. According to him, it is wrong to attempt to own genes.
He goes a head to relate the situation to owning a disease like the “more than 20 human pathogens that are privately owned today. ” In conclusion, the author asserts that the holder of gene patents cannot even in the foreseeable future be kind enough not to reap from the process, just like there was rush to carry out research on SARS in the hope of patenting the findings. He therefore criticizes the proponents of gene patents who are quick to make decisions without analyzing the possible repercussions.
Emphatically, the author supports an initiative by two congressmen “Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, and Dave Weldon, a Republican of Florida” who intend to introduce a bill that will make it illegal to patent naturally occurring genes besides prompting research and innovation. In my evaluation, I support the author’s strong opposition to gene patents, especially the naturally existing genes owing to the possible profound medical, moral and socio-economic consequences while considering that genes are not products to be owned and sold.
However, the author failed to provide an explanation in a situation where the experts and the supporters of gene patents have discovered away of isolating the genes. To me, this would amount to an innovation that warrants an award of patent based on the intellectual properly right laws. At the same time, the author passed a verdict that is strongly against the gene patents without giving the advantages and benefits that may accrue from gene patents as put forward by the process’ ardent supporters.
By comparing the gene patent debate to SARS research, the author does not show who exactly should lay claim to a discovery of the disease causing pathogens. The author also appears to contradict himself in his conclusion remark by stating that the proposed “bill will fuel innovation, and return our common genetic heritage to us”, yet his argument clearly demonstrate that gene is not a “product of nature”, that can neither be created not given by another person.
He therefore seems to seek public sympathy and attempts to acquire support to his argument per see by only citing social and moral points of references, and neither logical nor rational reasoning that normally come to the fore in such debates. The subject is however open to more debates and reactions given that there is already much hyped public debate as well as the involvement of the political class through the proposed legislation by the congress.
Such debates as hinted by the author would revolve around the antagonist’s views on the value of human life; need to advance medical research versus the legal and business technicalities that may spring from the gene patent. Reference: Michael C. “Patenting Life. ” Published: February 13, 2007. Retrieved February 3, 2009. NY. Times. Available Online: <http://www. nytimes. com/2007/02/13/opinion/13crichton. html>