[LINK] you've already been sold

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Sun Aug 8 10:30:15 AEST 2010


> Who Owns This Body?
> The U. S. patent code was never meant to cover your genes, your  
> cells, your blood, or the marrow in your bones. But it does. And the  
> worst thing is, it's too late for you to do anything about it.  
> You've already been sold.


> Moore was at home when his lawyer called him back with some news.  
> Turned out that Goldie had a few things going on behind Moore's  
> back. Even before the surgery, Goldie had suspected that leukemia  
> researchers would love to run experiments on Moore's spleen. So the  
> doctor had instructed his surgical staff to remove some cells from  
> Moore's spleen and make a culture. Then Goldie brought the culture  
> back to his lab and kept Moore's cells alive, kept them reproducing,  
> a tiny portion of Moore's body living inside a dish. Goldie took out  
> a patent on Moore's cells in 1984, and then, without mentioning it  
> to anyone, he shopped them around to a few pharmaceutical companies,  
> eventually finding a taker. A company named Genetics Institute  
> offered him seventy-five thousand shares of stock, worth about $1.5  
> million, for Moore's cells.


> But when his case went before the California Supreme Court in July  
> of 1990, the judges weren't impressed. As far as they were  
> concerned, Moore didn't have any right to sue Goldie for stealing  
> his cells because the cells didn't belong to Moore in the first  
> place. They might have come from his body, and they might have  
> contained his DNA, but that didn't mean they were his. On the  
> contrary. According to the judges, Moore's cells couldn't belong to  
> him because if they did belong to him, then Goldie couldn't have a  
> patent on them. "Moore's allegations that he owns the cell line and  
> the products derived from it are inconsistent with the patent," the  
> majority wrote, adding that he "neither has title to the property,  
> nor possession thereof" and concluding that "the  patented cell line  
> and the products derived from it cannot be Moore's property."
> John Moore didn't own his own body.


> It's not just genes , either. There's a patent on the blood inside  
> every human umbilical cord. So if, by chance, your newborn baby  
> needs that blood, don't expect to get it for free. There's also a  
> Swiss company called Novartis that has a patent on the stem cells in  
> your American bone marrow. Don't expect to access those cells if you  
> ever need a transplant, either, unless you're prepared to pay.
> Some companies have patents on entire species of animals, like the  
> species of mice and pigs that belong to DuPont. You can patent  
> people, too, and not just John Moore. These days, you can get a  
> patent on just about anybody; a patent issued in 1995 to the U. S.  
> Department of Health covered the cell line of an unsuspecting member  
> of the Hagahai tribe in Papua, New Guinea, whose resistance to  
> certain diseases made him valuable to researchers. Other patents  
> filed by the U. S. government at around the same time covered  
> indigenous people from the Solomon Islands and from the Guaymi tribe  
> in Panama.


> As a matter of constitutional law, all of this is highly suspect.  
> There's never been a vote by Congress to approve the patenting of  
> human or animal life, there's never been an executive order by any  
> president, and there's never been a decision by the U. S. Supreme  
> Court on the patenting of any animal larger than a microorganism. In  
> fact, just twenty-five years ago, you couldn't patent any of it:  
> genes , cells, blood, marrow, even a clipped fingernail. Back then,  
> the U. S. patent code looked a lot more like the code Thomas  
> Jefferson wrote, the code that was designed to protect inventions-- 
> think cotton gins, whoopee cushions, Twinkies!--made on American  
> soil. But that hasn't slowed down the patent code, which not only  
> applies to U. S. soil but now lays claim to ninety foreign  
> countries, and even to "any object made, used, or sold in outer  
> space."
> If you're starting to get the impression that the U. S. patent laws  
> have gotten out of hand, if you're starting to wonder how they got  
> that way, how they stretched so wide so quickly without any public  
> debate or government approval, the first question you  ought to ask  
> yourself is why you never thought about it before. The answer, most  
> likely, is that you didn't know. You didn't know because nobody  
> knew. Nobody knew because nobody cared. Life went on, oblivious.
> And that's how it happened.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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