Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Senate inquiry into gene patents open

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-11-21

I’m a traditionalist in that I believe patents should encourage invention, should cover inventions, and not discoveries of what is already here, waiting for anybody to stumble on it, or, in religious terms, already invented by an alleged creator.

So I’m glad that the senate has opened an inquiry into gene patents.  Gene patents (unless they are of inventions, with genes designed in a lab, not discovered in the field) are a pet peeve of mine, along with mathematical algorithms.  (When we hook up with the Alpha Centauri Patents Office, there will be a hell of a fight about algorithmic "inventions").

So… especially those of you who don’t want nature "owned" by Big Pharma, who want third world countries with indigenous crops that have disease-resistance genes ransacked, or who object to the lax standard of patents review (remember the Australian Innovation Patent granted for "The Wheel", a.k.a. a "Circular transportation facilitation device"?), get your submissions prepared, even if it is a one-para objection to the things are going.

Details and summary of terms of reference over the fold, but first, is there any reader who knows their way around the Patents Act 1990, how it can be tightened up to differentiate between discovery and invention, and how it might be fixed to prevent abuse by Big Pharma?

  • Inquiry home page:
  • Terms of reference:
  • Closing date: 2009-03-19
  • Email:
  • Terms of reference extract: The impact of the granting of patents in Australia over human and microbial genes and non-coding sequences, proteins, and their derivatives, including those materials in an isolated form, with particular reference to:
    1. the impact which the granting of patent monopolies over such materials has had, is having, and may have had on:
      1. the provision and costs of healthcare,
      2. the provision of training and accreditation for healthcare professionals,
      3. the progress in medical research, and
      4. the health and wellbeing of the Australian people;
    2. identifying measures that would ameliorate any adverse impacts arising from the granting of patents over such materials, including whether the Patents Act 1990 should be amended, in light of the any matters identified by the inquiry; and
    3. whether the Patents Act 1990 should be amended so as to expressly prohibit the grant of patent monopolies over such materials.

3 Responses to “Senate inquiry into gene patents open”

  1. PollyCyclic said

    From The Age :

    From November 6, Genetic Technologies secured rights to the testing of two genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2 — that are associated with high risks of breast cancer. Hundreds of tests at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute and the Royal Melbourne Hospital each year will no longer be carried out. The $2100 test will still be available on the public purse only if family history suggests women are at risk. Cancer specialists fear the monopoly could raise prices, stop research and encourage profit-motivated marketing.

    From Nature News Online 2 dec

    Europe to pay royalties for cancer gene. BRCA1 patent decision may be ignored in clinics…. “We had all been freely testing the BRCA genes since they were first described in the early 1990s,” she says.

  2. […] know what it doesProzac/SSRIs during pregnancy risks your child getting depression, bipolar et alSenate inquiry into gene patents openIs rendering countries uninhabitable terrorism?Gender-based […]

  3. […] "Senate Inquiry into Gene Patents Open" (2008-11-21) […]

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