Is there a unique moral status of human DNA that prevents patenting?
SourceKennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 11, 4, (2001), pp. 359--86
Article / Letter to editor
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Ethics, Philosophy, History of Medical Sciences
Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
SubjectCentre for Ethics; Health care practices and chronic disorders. Bioethical, philosophical and historical perspectives; Gezondheidszorgpraktijken en chronische aandoeningen
The gene patenting debate, which proved to be a focal point for divergent moral concerns about recent developments in genome research and biotechnology, has revealed that the moral status of DNA is not clear. One of the arguments used to stop undesirable developments was that DNA possesses a unique status, which renders it unfit for patenting. This paper investigates the allegedly unique (moral) status of genetic material and the information it holds from different perspectives. Several properties of DNA prove to be unique. We examine the relevance of these for patentability of genes and conclude that only the unique symbolic meaning of DNA is a relevant factor, which should be taken into account but weighed against other interests involved.
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