Food and Technology Blog

Court Rejects Patents on Human Genes

Posted Mar. 30, 2010 / Posted by: Eric Hoffman


For Immediate Release
Eric Hoffman, 443-465-2219
Nick Berning, 703-587-4454
Federal Court Rejects Patents of Human Genes, Friends of the Earth Asks Congress to Make Ruling Permanent
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. District Court of New York held yesterday in Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al. that patents on human genes that correlate with increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer are invalid because genes and DNA sequences are naturally occurring.
Friends of the Earth, which has long fought gene patenting, praised the ruling and called on members of Congress to respond by passing the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act, which would codify the court’s decision in legislation.
Eric Hoffman, Genetic Technology Policy Campaigner for Friends of the Earth said:
“This ruling is a huge victory for women who will no longer have to pay exorbitant fees for cancer screening, and it is a victory for the effort to stop the patenting of life at all levels. Judge Sweet’s decision in this case draws a clear line that all genes and DNA sequences are naturally occurring and therefore outside the scope of patentability. This ruling will help countless people receive medical tests without having to pay exorbitant prices to private corporations that seek to patent genes they did not invent.
“The defendants will likely appeal this case all the way to the Supreme Court. That is one reason it is incumbent upon Congress to pass the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act. All genes and DNA sequences, whether they are isolated or remain in the body, should forever stay in the public domain. We should never again allow private firms to own naturally occurring genes and DNA sequences at the expense of public health.”
Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.
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