Is a gene patent bad for the Jews?

Health and medicine explained.
July 26 2005 12:16 PM

Jewish Guinea Pigs

What if a gene patent is bad for the Jews?

(Continued from Page 1)

There are some strong arguments for revoking Myriad's patent. One is that a component of the human body—life itself—cannot and should not be commodified. Another is the sound technical argument that testing for mutations by doing full sequencing rather than comparing particular strains is more accurate, which means the use of Myriad's patented test impedes both research and treatment. But if the EPO or another agency revoked Myriad's patent because it was deemed bad for the Jews, that would set a silly and dangerous precedent. The unfair-advantage-for-the-Jews claim comes fast on the heels of the anti-Semitism claim. Every advance in genetic medicine will benefit a particular ethnic group. It's in the genes.

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist who is the author of Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot and The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.

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