ISSUE: Despite international controversy over the patenting of human genes and other life forms, US-based genomic companies (in partnership with major pharmaceutical corporations), are filing patents for exclusive monopoly control on human genes and gene fragments.
IMPACT: The commercial potential of genomic technologies is still untested and unproved. But the commodification of human genetic material raises many profound questions: Who will control the genes and genetic information that may someday unlock secrets to genetic diagnosis and treatment of human diseases? Will the patent grab on human genes ultimately thwart innovation as well as information exchange between public and private sector researchers, and between North and South? Who will benefit, and at what cost to society?