EU COFR 3.2.3 : Clarification needed: Wigs? Cultures?
Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-07-10
Something random hit me about EU Charter of Fundamental Rights 3.2.3 (It’s actually an unnumbered dot point): "the prohibition on making the human body and its parts as such a source of financial gain".
I wonder if this covers hair (and if you are an "Aaahh!!! Real Monsters" fan, toenail clippings)? More seriously, what about cell-lines?
If so, this would mean that human-hair wigs (which can fulfil a useful purpose for those suffering alopecia for various reasons) would have to be sold at-cost?
Now, this raises the question of what is and is not a "human body part".
Blood, for example, might be considered similar to hair. Unlike hair, blood is sometimes considered as an "organ" in medical textbooks. (Don’t ask for a citation, I just remember it from my studies a few decades back, and many of those texts are boxed at the moment.)
Perhaps there is a form of words that would differentiate between products that can be extracted and used (such as blood, or various blood products including hormones) and body products such as hair? Could we use the term "organ" instead of part?
If we separate out hair from blood based on the degree of utility it performs in the body, then how would this affect the profit from cell lines derived from cancerous tissue removed during medical treatment? This is a thriving source of business, and indeed there are cases where court cases have involved profits from the sale of cell lines sought by the families of those from whom the cancerous tissue was removed. The maintenance of those cells lines is a valuable activity, and there’s no telling which cell line will end up valuable and which won’t, so private enterprize might maintain cell lines that governments wont.
Now, I’m a fan of the products of human bodies being non-profit (covering costs is fine), be it blood, spermatozoa, or cell-lines. This extends to the abhorrence for companies patenting DNA sequences (and the proteins they would produce), even when the company does not know the function of the protein. Such "land-grabs" have been happening like crazy in the US – and the Human Genome project received much state funding.
(Now, some of you might see why Craig is sometimes called "Darth Ventner")
What I’d like to see is a form of words that would make organs, blood, cell-lines and DNA sequences protected by such a statement of rights, but leaving the way open to for-profit use of hair (and toenail clippings). Do any bloggers out there with a legal background (and btw Legal Eagle at the entertaining Legal Soapbox is one) have any ideas on this?