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Outline: Applied Ethics Essay

By

Matthew Jung

PHI 220: Ethics

Strayer University

May 21, 2022

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Case Study: Business Ethics/CSR

Patenting Genetically Engineered Life Forms (4)

In 1873, Louis Pasteur received a U.S. patent for the manufacture of a yeast that was free

of disease. The first patent in the United States for a genetically engineered life form was

granted in 1980 when the Supreme Court, in Diamond vs Chakrabarty, held that a human-

created micro-organism was a new and useful “manufacture,” and hence patentable. Since

then, more than three million genome-related patents have been filed with the U.S. Patent

and Trademark Office (USPTO), some of which cover genetically engineered humans.

The year 2007 marked the first application for a patent for an artificial, human-created

life-form, a microbe.Despite the legal status of biopatents, there is still considerable

controversy about the morality of the practice. Canada does not permit patents for “higher

life forms,” such as the OncoMouse. China, India, and Thailand prohibit the patenting of

any animal. The European Union only permits such patents “provided the potential

benefits of the ‘invention’ outweigh the ethical and moral considerations, in particular the

suffering of animals.”People who favor biopatents argue that researchers should be

rewarded for their discoveries. People would not put the money and years into genetic

research unless they had some mechanism for protecting their inventions and investment

through patents. Those who are against it question the assumption that science will

advance faster if researchers can have exclusive rights to their inventions. They also point

out that the monopoly on certain products and the high royalty costs owed to patent

holders may discourage product development, since the high costs would be passed on to

the consumer, as is currently happening in the pharmaceutical industry. Finally, there is

the question of whether it is moral to patent a part of nature or to own life forms.Myriad

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Genetics currently holds a patent on two human genes that have been linked to breast

cancer. Religious leaders have called for a moratorium on the patenting of life-forms

because they believe to grant patents on animal or plant genomes is to usurp the

“ownership rights of God.”Choose one of the following questions:

Question 1: Do humans have an inalienable right to ownership of their body and is the

patenting of individual human genes a violation of human dignity?

Question 2: Should companies hold patents on mammals or chimera (animals created

with human DNA to make their organs harvestable and compatible with human DNA)?

Outline

⦁ Position

⦁ Humans have an inalienable right to ownership of their bodies, and

patenting is a violation of human dignity and ownership rights of God.

⦁ It is morally unacceptable to use human genes to prepare a new micro-

organism because humans are not powered to do these things.

⦁ This is the authority of God, and he is the only one to control these

processes.

⦁ We should not accept these advancements because they violate God’s

right of authority and distribute his ownership.

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⦁ Facts of the Case

⦁ Laws for patenting human genes differ in different countries.

⦁ In the United States, laws prohibit the patenting of human genes

because genes or DNA are products of nature.

⦁ Canada does not allow patenting for higher life forms such as

OncoMouse.

⦁ According to the ruling, patents are granted to those newly invented

items, but alterations of genes are not a new invention; thus, patents

should not be granted for such achievements.

⦁ The emergence of the concept of gene alteration and its usefulness was

not evolving in humans and other living organisms. But over time, the

scope of gene alterations has expanded, resulting in the human gene

alterations to create artificially customized organisms.

⦁ This evolution has challenged the law of nature to a much extent.

⦁ God is the only creator, and he holds all the rights and patents to create

unique human genes.

⦁ Researchers should not be rewarded because they are not inventors.

⦁ Clarifying Concepts

⦁ Genetically engineered life forms leave numerous individuals suffering

behind.

⦁ Genetically engineered life-forms could be an invention, but to a great

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extent, these pose moral and ethical questions to the public.

⦁ Genetically engineered life forms are not acceptable among the vast

number of populations.

⦁ Ethical and religious concerns are being neglected when it comes to

patenting of engineered life-forms.

⦁ Modifying the genetic identity of animals leads to the suffering of

animals and the man resulting from genetic engineering.

⦁ The inception of patents on human genes is controversial, and there is

a need to understand it in the light of ethical and religious perspectives.

⦁ Ethical Standard Pertinent to the Case

⦁ The Natural Law principle states that human genes cannot be patented

because these are the product of nature and cannot be claimed as

human invention.

⦁ Genes are the product of nature, and God is the only inventor of these

unique sets of identities; thus, human claims for patenting are immoral

and unethical claims.

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