We have the technology for genetically modified seeds, food, animals and reportedly even for humans. The technology, known as cytoplasmic transfer, was reportedly put to use in or about 2001 when upwards of 30 genetically modified babies were born. The process essentially blends the genetic material from multiple mothers into a single egg, which is then fertilized with the sperm from a male. Promulgated to be a credible solution to infertility, the process was banned by the FDA in that genetically manipulated embryos are considered a "biological product".
Although the current prohibition on this technology which has untold ramifications is difficult to police, a contingent of the scientific community strives to eliminate the prohibition and gain world wide acceptance. If acceptance of this technology is obtained, it is likely that attempts to obtain patents will either precede or follow. Biotech companies have already secured patents on everything from genetically modified seeds to engineered animals. Even human genes have already been patented such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Myriad Genetics, the private biotech company that holds these patents, has the right to prevent anyone else from testing, studying or doing anything with these genes without Myriad's consent.
As explained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
"The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents on human genes, which means that the patent holders own the exclusive rights to those genetic sequences, their usage, and their chemical composition. Anyone who makes or uses a patented gene without permission of the patent holder – whether it be for commercial or noncommercial purposes – is committing patent infringement and can be sued by the patent holder for such infringement. Gene patents, like other patents, are granted for 20 years."
Biotech companies continue to dominate and amaze us, from "Round Up Ready" seeds that produce food with genetically built in weed killer, to cloning animals for would be human consumption with potentially devastating health consequences, to genetically modified babies. One could only imagine that if the biotech industry has their way, the technology for human cloning is on the horizon or perhaps already exists.
Long Island Lawyer
Paul A. Lauto, Esq.