Should Human Genes Be Patented?

Abstract
The ethics of gene patenting is concerned with whether human genes are the kind of thing that is appropriate for patenting, and whether it is ethical to do so. Is genetic technology a special case compared to other medical technology that have been patented? Much of the debate has revolved around the benefits and harms of allowing gene sequences to be patented. In this paper, I am concerned with a non-consequential consideration: Can someone patent my genes? If genes are the common property of humankind, are genes patentable? I present an objection to the patenting of processes used to manipulate our genes that have the potential to change human nature. Should not all members of the human species have a say regarding genetic engineering that can be used to irreversibly change what makes each one a human? I conclude with an examination of how genetic research may be democratically controlled.
Keywords Gene patents  Property rights
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DOI 10.5840/pcw200512219
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