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U.S. DOJ Argues That Human, Plant And Animal Genes Are Not Patentable

November 5, 2010: 08:00 AM EST

Nutrition author Marion Nestle says a friend of the court brief on gene patents filed recently by the U.S. Dept. of Justice in a federal suit against the U.S. Patent Office has angered the biotech industry and may have important implications for the food industry. In the brief, DOJ argues that because human and other genes are part of nature they should not be patentable. The brief excludes artificial gene modifications, but food biotech experts think the brief has broad implications. Nestle says patents on GM foods raise crucial issues: they are broad and concentrated in a few companies; biotech firms aggressively defend them; animal gene patents raise ethical problems; and some seeds containing patented genes prevent germination, requiring farmers to buy new seeds rather than save and use leftovers.

Marion Nestle, "The Problems With Patenting Genetically Modified Foods", The Atlantic, November 05, 2010, © The Atlantic Monthly Group
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