From Boing Boing today:
Xeni Jardin: A report in this week's issue of Science says 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States:
The study (...) is the first time that a detailed map has been created to match patents to specific physical locations on the human genome. Researchers can patent genes because they are potentially valuable research tools, useful in diagnostic tests or to discover and produce new drugs.
"It might come as a surprise to many people that in the U.S. patent system human DNA is treated like other natural chemical products," said Fiona Murray, a business and science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and a co-author of the study.
I have long felt that patents should not be granted on naturally occuring phenomena -- such as the DNA of any species. It is simply absurd to grant a patent on something that has existed in the public domain for millions or even billions of years! It's simply an absurd abuse of the legal system, for the benefit of corporate greed, in my opinion. I do believe that patents should be granted for new inventions (although I think all patent rights should expire much faster than they presently do -- which would solve many of the problems in the patent world) -- but it is simply wrong to allow patents on naturally occuring physical phenomena. Discoveries are not inventions.