Issue 349 of New Internationalist

Reader-owned global journalism

September 2002

Patents on life

For those who thought space was the final frontier, here's news - it's actually life. And the conquistadors are `Life Science' multinationals who are hell-bent on owning it. But should natural resources, living creatures and our very genes `belong' to corporate players? Or should they belong to us all? Intellectual property rights clauses stitched into trade agreements are making it virtually impossible for countries to opt out of and oppose patents on life. And yet the patents themselves are nonsense - if life cannot be created, it clearly cannot be owned. Whilst the debate on the dangers and benefits of genetic modification rages on, a clear stand must be taken: research in this field must not mean ownership of the living `product'.


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