Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good news happens occasionally

Via io9: a judge has ruled that corporations cannot patent human genes if they discover them.

I would like to take a moment to reflect on the entirely fucked up system that would a) produce people who think it makes sense to patent human genes, b) produce a patent office that would allow this, c) lead to corporations feeling that they have the right to do this:
[Myriad Genetics, Inc.] had a patent on a gene which can lead to breast cancer. Refusing to license the gene to other companies, Myriad had a monopoly on tests for the gene, which meant many women were denied the ability to discover whether they had an increased risk for cancer.
and d) leave the whim of some judge someone appointed as our only defense against this blatantly evil set of circumstances. I could write a whole long post about just point d, how fucked up our judicial system is, but I won't right now.

Because in practical terms this ruling is a very very good thing. A relatively minor good thing, sure, a mere drop of fresh water in an ocean of shit, but that one drop is still something to be happy about.


Salty said...

"There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

Most companies today probably view that as quaint.

Ethan said...

I remember even as a nine year old reading Jurassic Park thinking that the idea of patenting genes, for fuck's sake, was insane.

I'll repeat that: a nine year old reading Michael fucking Chrichton thought this shit was insane.

Soj said...

I forget the quote but if you can own a piece of land, if you can own a tree, if you can own water, where's the line to keep you from owning people (or their parts)? Property is property and long live capitalism!

Ethan said...

Yeah! My thing is, I hate the system that produced this judicial decision, and honestly the decision is intellectually at odds with the nature of the decision, as you (Soj) describe, but I can at least be happy that within the limits of this awful system the best possible decision was made.

Ethan said...

Er, nature of the system, not nature of the decision. Scotch is talking.