Lost in Friday-news-dump-land among all the election mishegas was this:
Reversing a longstanding policy, the federal government said on Friday that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry.
“We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA,” the brief said.
Regardless of whatever happens on Tuesday, this is a huge win for the future of human freedom and well-being. As we further our knowledge of genetics, leading to even greater advances in potential human wellness, those windfalls should not be the property of any individual or corporation, but rather should accrue to humanity in general. This one ruling won’t ensure that, but it reflects a necessary and welcome shift towards a more basically just future in what will be one of the most important industries and areas of development of this century.