Gene patenting is the practice of allowing a research company to patent specific gene sequences that are found within the human body. Research into genes is thought to be the next great medical frontier, but to achieve greatness within this field, there must be profitability. Doing things for the common human good can only take a business so far. By evaluating the pros and cons of gene patenting in more detail, we can determine if granting these exclusive rights to researchers would be worthwhile.
The Pros of Gene Patenting
1. It would give research companies exclusive rights.
Any medical treatments that could be created from specific gene sequences that are patented would make for automatic profits to the company that discovered them. This would encourage competition within the field because there could be huge profits in curing something like ALS or Alzheimer’s disease.
2. It could advance medical science greatly.
Studying genes doesn’t just mean that human medical treatments can be discovered. It also means that the very structures of harmful bacteria and viruses could be thoroughly analyzed so that weaknesses could be discovered and exploited to lessen the instances of illness.
3. It creates profitability in a generally unprofitable area of research.
Without gene patenting, there is virtually no way to bring something profitable to the market. If a company could do so, without a patent in place, generic copies could be immediately created and although that would benefit humanity, it wouldn’t help the budget of the business.
The Cons of Gene Patenting
1. It is something that is part of the human race.
Patenting genes that are discovered would be like creating a patent on rocks that are found out in nature. People didn’t invent genes. They are a natural part of the human structure. Allowing a patent on something that is naturally occurring goes against the process of innovation that has existed for centuries.
2. It may cause medical science to languish.
Companies that could patent genes could decide that pursuing treatment possibilities wasn’t a profitable enough venture. Since they held the patent on the gene, they could just sit on it and do nothing and no other companies could take up the mantle of research until the patent expired.
3. It could put future medical treatments outside of the budget of the average person.
Companies that have patents on genes could set whatever price they wanted on treatments that were designed from them. People who would need gene therapy would be forced to either pay the high rates or be stuck with a terrible disease.
Gene patenting could exploit humanity for the greater good of business. It could also be the key to human survival in the future. By weighing all of the pros and cons of this practice, we can all come together to decide if this would be something that we would wish to pursue.