Shobita Parthasarathy interviewed by German Public Radio about legality of human gene patents
Shobita Parthasarathy was interviewed by German Public Radio about recent debates on the legality of patenting human genes. Since a narrowly decided Supreme Court ruling in the 1980s, the U.S. Patent Office has allowed patents for a variety of life forms, including human gene sequences. This practice, however, has recently come into question. In March, a New York judge invalidated Myriad Genetics' patents on the BRCA genes, thought to cause breast and ovarian cancer, and the case is under appeal. And in October, in a very surprising move, the Obama administration declared that it also considered genes unpatentable, because they are "products of nature." Parthasarathy, an expert in genetics and biotechnology policy, supports the recent court decision and the Obama administration's decision. Those on the other side of the debate worry that the loss of patents will decrease investment in innovation and, ultimately, will hurt research and health care.