Human gene patents: core issues in a multi-layered debate.
SourceMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 4, 2, (2001), pp. 211--21
Article / Letter to editor
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Ethics, Philosophy, History of Medical Sciences
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy
SubjectHealth care practices and chronic disorders. Bioethical, philosophical and historical perspectives; Gezondheidszorgpraktijken en chronische aandoeningen
After ten years of debate Directive 98/44/EG on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions was adopted in 1998. This directive takes decisions on some controversial bioethical and legal issues and offers the European biotech industries more space to develop their inventions, but leaves a number of philosophical and moral issues unresolved. This paper distinguishes between different layers in the debate and maps its modes of argumentation. Major philosophical, ethical and conceptual issues are located. It is argued that further analysis of these issues can help resolve further ethical and legal difficulties as regards patenting of human DNA. As the allegedly special status of genetic material remains unclear, the status of (human) DNA and its relation to the human body and personal identity should be further explored.
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