Outline: Applied Ethics Essay
PHI 220: Ethics
May 21, 2022
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 â€œmanufacture,â€ 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 â€œhigher
life forms,â€ such as the OncoMouse. China, India, and Thailand prohibit the patenting of
any animal. The European Union only permits such patents â€œprovided the potential
benefits of the â€˜inventionâ€™ 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
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
â€œownership rights of God.â€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)?
â¦ Humans have an inalienable right to ownership of their bodies, and
patenting is a violation of human dignity and ownership rights of God.
â¦ It is morally unacceptable to use human genes to prepare a new micro-
organism because humans are not powered to do these things.
â¦ This is the authority of God, and he is the only one to control these
â¦ We should not accept these advancements because they violate God’s
right of authority and distribute his ownership.
â¦ Facts of the Case
â¦ Laws for patenting human genes differ in different countries.
â¦ In the United States, laws prohibit the patenting of human genes
because genes or DNA are products of nature.
â¦ Canada does not allow patenting for higher life forms such as
â¦ 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.
â¦ 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.
â¦ This evolution has challenged the law of nature to a much extent.
â¦ God is the only creator, and he holds all the rights and patents to create
unique human genes.
â¦ Researchers should not be rewarded because they are not inventors.
â¦ Clarifying Concepts
â¦ Genetically engineered life forms leave numerous individuals suffering
â¦ Genetically engineered life-forms could be an invention, but to a great
extent, these pose moral and ethical questions to the public.
â¦ Genetically engineered life forms are not acceptable among the vast
number of populations.
â¦ Ethical and religious concerns are being neglected when it comes to
patenting of engineered life-forms.
â¦ Modifying the genetic identity of animals leads to the suffering of
animals and the man resulting from genetic engineering.
â¦ 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.
â¦ Ethical Standard Pertinent to the Case
â¦ The Natural Law principle states that human genes cannot be patented
because these are the product of nature and cannot be claimed as
â¦ 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.