Is the ‘designer baby’ debate more about gene patentability?

baby
Image via MetroActive.

When genetics company 23andMe was granted a patent for “gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations” in September, it reignited the debate about the controversial subject of “designer babies.”

While the controversy surrounding the use of genetics to alter the DNA of children is nothing new, the latest incarnation of this debate has also focused on the larger questions about patent eligibility and the patent application process, writes Jonathan Webber in a post on the Genomics Law Report website.

“Those who find repulsive the idea of manipulating the genes of a zygote for non-therapeutic purposes are probably on the right track in pursuing greater government regulation of genetic science’s applications to donor selection,” he writes. “The technology is inevitable, and in an unregulated environment, it is up to the patent-holder to decide whether to exploit the patent commercially or not. If they are not “preventive patent-holders” — that is, sitting on patents with the express intention of preventing the use of the patented technology — whether they choose to exploit the patent will depend on the costs and benefits. Would media and public condemnation be enough to stop a company from providing a service for which there is an express market demand?”

Read the full, original story here: Designing Children

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