Patenting Genes: Should it Be Considered Unethical? Term Paper

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Patenting Genes: should it be considered unethical?

Issue Synopsis and Opinion

Gene patents are patents given for a specific isolated gene sequence, its chemical composition, ways of obtaining or using it, or for a combination of all of these. It is, put in other words, a patent accorded to someone who has discovered a newly discovered gene, or modified it in such a way that it may be useful for diagnosis and treatment. Gene patents are a category of the larger subject of biological patents accorded for any specific discovery that is biology-related.

Gene patents are accorded for isolating a natural sequence of the gene, using it for medical / contributive purposes such as diagnostic testing, or altering it by adding a promoter or some other modification that can make it helpful for treatment and possible prevention of disease or pathological human condition.

What gene patenting, in effect allows, is for an individual or an organization to own certain unique segments of DNA which may code for certain diseases, psychological / physical conditions, or certain proteins. The permission to claim exclusive ownership over these unique DNAs is controversial with opponents claiming patenting of these genes unethical.

The USA has only provided patents for isolated gene sequences that have known functions and so far these patents have not been applied to the naturally occurring genes in humans or to any other naturally occurring organism.

The Argument for considering Patenting Genes as unethical

The human genome is a different business enterprise than other patent applications. The genome stands for essential building blocks of the human species and, therefore, questions of human dignity and ethics should be studied. Business people, lawyers, or those involved in the medical field and hoping to gain a tidy profit may see nothing wrong in gene patting abut raise this question amongst a layperson audience and they are likely to be discomfited.

Human DNA represents the essence of a human being and, therefore, is very different than patenting a real or intellectual property that is essentially inanimate. Patenting the human DNA treads on the dignity of the human being. Humans are more than the sum of their genes and cannot be simply reduced to a code.

Patenting human genes raises various ethical questions, another of which may be setting prices on certain treatments margin the burden of receiving treatment therefore too high for certain people and raising the flap between rich and poor. The decision of who should and should not receive treatment should not rest within the hands of a few individuals or organizations but this is what patenting would achieve.

The Argument for not considering patenting genes unethical

The U.S. Patent Office has issued thousands of patents on genes. It has investigated the matter and affirms legality of the procedure. It would not have acted so unhesitatingly on such a responsible matter would there be even slight scruples of ethical concern. The fact that it has assented to and possesses these patens points to the fact that ethical sensitivity on this matter is unwarranted.

More so, no ethical or moral concerns exists simply due to the fact that the genes have coalesced into an anonymous state where they have been isolated and modified so hugely that they no longer resemble their original impression. They have become part of an anonymous collection of a scientific bank for overall research.

If the genes had been in the original condition, we may demonstrate some concern since they are intrinsically human and part of the original human condition. However, the very fact that they… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Patenting Genes: Should it Be Considered Unethical?.  (2013, February 15).  Retrieved January 18, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Patenting Genes: Should it Be Considered Unethical?."  15 February 2013.  Web.  18 January 2020. <>.

Chicago Format

"Patenting Genes: Should it Be Considered Unethical?."  February 15, 2013.  Accessed January 18, 2020.