Supreme Court Will Decide If Corporations Have The Right To Own Your Genome

The term “corporate slavery” is striking, but very accurate. It describes the march that America is on with corporations encroaching on our individual liberties. They do this even as they use propaganda to mislead Americans into believing that government is the infringer and that government regulation is impeding corporations to execute effectively in promoting a good economy. Of course, they should cherish said “infringement” since they are making record profits and the nation’s wealth is migrating towards those who are the corporate masters.

I wrote the book, “As I See It: Class Warfare The Only Resort To Right Wing Doom (ISBN: 1-453-60816-8)” a few years ago. It is amazing how the ills described, and resolution of those ills, remain prescient as they continue to be litigated.

In the chapter in the book titled, “What is Wrong With Our Brand Of Capitalism,” I wrote:

I am using the term Capitalism to describe our free market economic system in its totality. None of these parts can be disassociated; Financial System, Taxation, Patent Law, Military Spending, Free Trade, and Government Social Services.

Note that while Military Spending and Government Social Services fall under the taxation portion of our system, their proportions of the national budget have their own gravity. They are better commented on separately as all other spending pales in comparison. This is our market.

[“As I See It: Class Warfare The Only Resort To Right Wing Doom” – p. 62]

Many gave me pushback for adding the patent system to the mix of severe ills that affect our brand of capitalism because they have been led to believe that the patent system was really there to protect any inventor from being able to capitalize on his/her invention. After all, lack of protection would mean one would not find it feasible to invest one’s capital and thus overall invention would likely be stymied.

The Supreme Court will be taking on a very important case this week, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. At issue in this particular case is whether extracted DNA (isolated DNA) can be patented. This is one of the cases I covered in my book. I stated:

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have granted thousands of patents on human genes and about 20% of human genes are patented. Any corporation owning a patent on any gene can prevent anyone from studying, viewing, or testing that gene. This undoubtedly inhibits the timely development of cures, drugs, medicines, or tests for fear of lawsuits from companies owning patents to the gene. Giving corporations or anyone or entity the ability to own patents on genes can only be considered obscene and immoral. In our form of capitalism it is a method to ensure that those who have the capital to control genes, and in that respect, life, will command unlimited profit.

On May 12, 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed a lawsuit against Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation who hold patents on the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 charging that patenting human genes violate the First Amendment and patent law because genes are “products of nature” and therefore cannot be patented.

On March 29, 2010 the patents were invalidated. The decision stated:

The resolution of these motions is based upon long recognized principles of molecular biology and genetics: DNA represents the physical embodiment of biological information, distinct in its essential characteristics from any other chemical found in nature. It is concluded that DNA’s existence in an “isolated” form alters.

Neither this fundamental quality of DNA as it exists in the body nor the information it encodes. Therefore, the patents at issue directed to “isolated DNA” containing sequences found in nature are unsustainable as a matter of law and are deemed unpatentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The decision is likely to be appealed eventually to the Supreme Court. It is for this reason that those sitting on the Supreme Courts matter. A court with a Right Wing tilt tends to be more corporatists in nature as opposed to ruling with bias toward the individual. The current makeup of the Supreme Court has a Right bias that, unless a progressive president is maintained, will likely change said bias from a tilt to an absolute Right Wing bend that is likely to further erode the rights of the individual in favor of corporations.

There are many other examples one could use to illustrate the destructive nature of patents. Ironically, those who believe in the infallibility of the market should really seek the abolishment of the patent as, in their parlance, the market would sort things out. Those capable of bringing a product or service to bear at a price and quality desired by customers would be successful. The reality is the patent system is designed to allow a select few to control innovations in selected fields. Moreover it provides disincentives for the improvement of technologies for fear of patent infringement.

[“As I See It: Class Warfare The Only Resort To Right Wing Doom” – pp 91-94]

Sadly, in 2011, The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reinstated Myriad Genetic’s patent. The Supreme Court will decide once and for all with this case this week whether it will allow corporations to patent genes, DNA, and other naturally occurring biological structures.

The current patent system inhibited my own development of a web-based shopping cart because of a 1997 patent on the OneClick button. Farmers whose fields are cross pollinated by other fields using genetically modified seeds have been sued for using their own seeds that were infected.

If the Supreme Court sides with Myriad Genetics, it will be introducing corporate ownership of natural biological matter. By definition, that is court sanctioned slavery, not the slavery as we have known it, but a more esoteric form. Corporations will decide who will be allowed the permission to research on portions of the DNA they own. They will make these decisions not on moral values but on the fiduciary responsibility they have to their shareholders. All Americans knowingly or not are invested in this Supreme Court decision.

As mentioned above, 20% of human genes are already patented. The race for the other 80% will be on. Every American’s genome will then be fully owned by corporations.

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