The Unethical Practice of Patenting Life

In the State of the Union address earlier in January 2008, President Bush made one statement regarding patents:

And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life.

 

31 thoughts on “The Unethical Practice of Patenting Life

  1. These posts are interesting. I have been in the middle of this debate from within the govt for over a decade and have heard both sides of the story and the arguments. The problem is a lose-lose situation. The PTO won’t (knowingly) issue a patent on a “human”. They also won’t define what “human” is and rely upon their, albeit imperfect, screening process to prevent issuing too many. The courts won’t touch it because they are afraid of impinging on the Supremes territory and a revisit of Roe. Then we are left with Congress and, well, it always seems to be an election year so the “human” question can be left for someone else. Bottom line…it is interesting rhetoric and while Jeremy Rifkin might want to get it to the Court, no one is going to touch it. Unfortunately, as science moves foward so inversely does the Roe trimester definition move backward. Question: Does anyone realistically want to claim a “human”? The real issue is where to draw the line on acceptable scientific and commercial behavior. Read Robert Heinlien’s “Time enough for Love” and ask what Lazarus Long might have said.

  2. ANON, you said “That is why he has been responsible for more american deaths than any other President since FDR.”

    Did you ever hear of little things called Korea and Vietnam?!?!

    Or aren’t they teaching that to you kids nowadays. Afraid to hurt your sensibilities that we (and pretty much every country that has survived any length of time) has had men (and women) die in wars (as well as “peace keeping missions” and other non-declared wars a long time before Iraq).

    Pretty much EVERY president (probably all, but not 100% sure right now) SINCE FDR has sent troops into combat for one reason or another. Usually with lose of life. And often unpopular. Even with WWII, before Pearl Harbor a large % of the people wanted nothing to do with the war. Even after 12/7/41 the vote to declare war was not unanimous.

    For some perspective (list does not include various other uses of the military as in Nicaragua, Africa and the Balkan states, for example):

    Revolutionary War (1775-1783) 4,435
    War of 1812 (1812-1815) 2,260
    Mexican War (1846-1848) 13,283
    Civil War (1861-1865) 623,026
    Spanish-American War (1898) 2,446
    World War I (1917-1918) 116,708
    World War II (1941-1945) 407,316
    Korean War (1950-1953) 36,914
    Vietnam War (1964-1973) 58,169
    Persian Gulf War (1991) 269
    Current Iraq War (2003-present) 3,431 (from hostile action) (3921 total)

    Why do people always think that whatever the current situation the country is going thru is unique??

    Now, I am not defending or putting down what Bush did. Just giving some facts of history.
    Next time you make a crack against someone, at least get your historical facts right. It won’t make you look so $tup1d.

    thanks,

    LL

  3. “Well, lets be honest, they didn’t have to do a lot of work for the state did they? More like “beneficiaries of the state” than slaves.”

    Hey, look, it’s one of those home-schooled kids from Arkansas spoutin’ off that old-timey learnin’ in between bites of squirrel jerky.

  4. Well, lets be honest, they didn’t have to do a lot of work for the state did they? More like “beneficiaries of the state” than slaves.

  5. In case you didn’t know it humans who are not self aware have historically been wards of the state, i.e., enslaved.

  6. What Bush says makes sense from his perspective. I mean it is readily apparrent that life is unethical to him. That is why he has been responsible for more american deaths than any other President since FDR.

  7. What would be cheaper, a clone army or a robot army? We could skirt most ethical issues with robots instead of clones.

  8. What comes to my mind: Seems like you and Mr. Bush at this moment (war, sub-prime crisis etc) are pretty much sensibilized for discussing ethical questions. With so many killings everyday would’nt this be a good opportunity to abolish death sentence at all? It would be my guess that this would be much more important but discussing useless patenting of a (hopefully not enabled)clone army.

    Best regards,
    Old Europe

  9. “1. An isolated human life form produced by a cloning process comprising steps: (a)…; (b)…; (c)…..

    I’d better get to work on this application before the 102(b) bar kicks in.”

    Don’t work too hard on it. I plan to willfully infringe your patent, safe in the knowledge that it will be impossible for you to get an injunction before my clone army is ready.

  10. Stem cell, abortion, death penalty, assisted-suicide … Let me see if I got this right. “No patents on human life” – “Yes patents on human death”?

  11. I don’t think anyone should read into this at all – it was just a throwaway applause line guaranteed to get both sides of the aisle applauding. “No patents on human life” is about as controversial a statement as “we support our brave troops overseas.”

    PS I don’t see where the 13 Amendment says anything about “self-aware entities.” However, I also don’t see where the 5th or 14th says anything about abortion, so maybe the 13th really was intended to ban patents on human life. What remarkable foresight they had!

  12. In fairness to Bush, it’s not correct to say that he is responsible for . . .

    “. . . war, an incurable fiscal deficit, a housing bubble and the sub-prime mess.”

    The way is his and his alone. The deficit, the housing bubble, and the sub-prime mess are all symptoms of a disease that has persisted in the U.S. for several decades.

    Just like Clinton was not to blame for the dot.com bubble and crash, Bush is not to blame for the economy.

    I’d say, if you insist on naming individuals, point to Greenspan, who was – if not only a mouthpiece – the main impetus behind the horrible monetary policy that has pushed us to where we are at.

    And to be sure, the last I checked, the last mess of a budget was passed by both Democratic houses of Congress before it was signed by the idi0t in chief.

  13. “without them we would have have missed out the great things his election has brought the country.”

    Like a war, an incurable fiscal deficit, a housing bubble and the sub-prime mess.

  14. He is talking about banning patents on stem cells in order to cripple the nascent industry. He ain’t talking slavery.

    This is right wing religious conservative clap-trap. He always throw a sop to them in every speech, but without them we would have have missed out the great things his election has brought the country.

  15. 1. An isolated human life form produced by a cloning process comprising steps: (a)…; (b)…; (c)…..

    I’d better get to work on this application before the 102(b) bar kicks in.

  16. ….treated with the dignity it DESERVES….is what POTUS spoke; deserves being the key word, in my estimation. The Great Decider decides, of course, how deserving any particular embodiment of life is.

    For example, how deserving is i) a Canadian ii) a citizen of old Europe iii) a citizen of the USA iv) a person who is not “one of us” in the War on T€rr0r or v) an innocent collection of human cells conceived a few weeks earlier vi) something else in a Petri dish. Do they all “deserve” to be treated at the same level of dignity? I think I can guess what the unshakeable POTUS mindset is, on that one.

  17. Odd set of comments to be included in a state of the union address. I wonder if this philosphy would apply to a genetically altered bacteria that destroyed cancer cells or expressed a protein that inhibited HIV from replicating.

  18. Dear GideonPope,

    Re my comment on another thread:

    To be fair, I think you also got that (above) right.

    * * * * *

  19. Saying things like “the 13th Amendment prohibits” is unsophisticated.

    The 13th Amendment is nothing more than an abstract suggestion.

    The 13th Amendment allows and prohibits exactly what 5 clowns on the Supreme Court says it does. No more, no less.

    The only interesting question is, who are the clowns right now?

    As for this tripe: “And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. ”

    I hear that they’re calling this the Abu Ghraib doctrine.

  20. So intelligent monkey clones are okay! Proliferation of monkey cloning may provide for better PTO leadership.

  21. Um, Mr. Prez…would that include a prohibition against the buying (oops; too late), selling (also too late), patenting (too much prior art?), or cloning (uhg!) of politicians…including presidents?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  22. “Therefore, the 13th prohibits owning of self-aware entities.”

    But what about all those people who demonstrate a complete lack of self awareness? Are we allowed to own them?

  23. The Thirteenth Amendment is nothing more than the Nineteenth Century minds’ statement that self-aware entities may not be the subject of property, unless adjudicated and convicted of a crime. Therefore, the 13th prohibits owning of self-aware entities. This gives rist to zoos’ ownership of primates; but, I will not go there.

  24. The Who “905″

    Mother was an incubator
    Father was the contents
    of a test tube in the ice box
    In the factory of birth

    My name is 905,
    And I’ve just become alive
    I’m the newest populator
    Of the planet we call Earth

    In suspended animation
    My childhood passed me by
    If I speak without emotion
    Then you know the reason why

    Knowledge of the universe
    Was fed into my mind
    As my adolescent body
    Left its puberty behind

    And everything I know is what I need to know
    And everything I do’s been done before
    Every sentence in my head
    Someone else has said
    At each end of my life is an open door
    —————————————–

    That last part seems to suggest some serious art issues.

  25. I believe the patenting of human life has already been held to constitute slavery and is thus forbidden by the Constitution. Didn’t we go through this many years ago?

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