Saturday, June 30, 2007


When I read Michael Crichton’s Next, it disturbed me a lot. The plot is not so exciting. It has loosely packed characters and narrative is jumpy at times. But the issue the author has taken is thought provoking. It made us afraid of the hospitals and doctors. If the narration in the novel becomes true nobody is safe when you step into hospitals. You may be robbed of your genes with out your knowledge. The author gives insight in to Patent Laws that are in vogue to-day. He beautifully put forth his arguments as how that patent Laws should be framed.

One cannot claim ownership of genes. When an individual donates tissue to a doctor for a research study, it is not the same as donating a book to a library. It never will be. We are told that a patient’s interest in his tissues and his right to privacy ends at death. That too is outmoded thinking that must change. Because the descendents of a dead person share his or her genes, their privacy is invaded if research is done, or if the genetic make up of the dead person is published.

Issue of ownership will always be clouded when individuals are able to manufacture with in their bodies what the court has ruled some one else owns. This is true of cell lines; it is true of genes, and of certain proteins. These things cannot be owned by any person. It is standing rule that facts of nature can not be owned. Yet for more than to two decades, legal rulings have failed to affirm this concept. Patent court rulings have failed to affirm this concept.

First genes are facts of nature. Like gravity, Sun light and leaves on trees, genes exist in the nature world. Facts of genes can not be owned. You can own a test for a gene or a drug that affects a gene but not the gene itself. You can own a treatment for a disease but not the disease itself. Gene patents break the fundamental rule. If something exists for millions of years before the arrival of Homo sapiens on earth, it is a fact of nature. To argue that a gene is in only a human invention is absurd. To grant a gene a patent is like granting a patent on iron or carbon.