Gene Patenting Pros and Cons List

Gene patenting provides an exclusive right to a specific DNA sequence. It is awarded to organizations or individuals who first identify the gene. In the United States, DNA is legally considered a product of nature, so it cannot be patented. Complementary DNA, however, which is manipulated or synthesized, does qualify for gene patenting.

List of Gene Patenting Pros

1. It encourages research and development.
Organizations invest into the R&D process when there is a strong possibility of earning a return. By allowing gene patenting, the foundation for those profits is created.

2. It encourages competition.
Gene patenting also creates a natural form of competition within this research sector. By providing patents, individuals and organizations are encouraged to work harder to create better sequences. Better sequences can then produce new medical procedures, technology, or products that benefit society.

3. It reduces conflict.
A patent creates specific rights for a specific company. That creates boundaries for the industry so that duplicated research investments are reduced. This eliminates most of the conflict that would occur otherwise. Each individual or organization has definitive boundaries to follow.

List of Gene Patenting Cons

1. It hinders product development.
No other company can work on patented gene sequences. That limits the scientific research that can be performed because only one organization is permitted to work with that specific sequence. Once a patent is awarded, a monopoly is essentially created on that specific sequence.

2. It creates treatment delays.
Results are patent-specific. That means any testing must be routed through the patent or an authorized party. It is a process that could create treatment delays. Companies could even refuse to work with treatment processes to protect their patent, which would limit the societal benefits of their research.

3. It is a lengthy process.
A gene patent could take up to 36 months to be processed. Sequences that are in a patent-pending status may not be released to the general market. That means the research is held back from the public, who does not get to benefit from the work until legal safeguards are in place to protect profits.

These gene patenting pros and cons are just the beginning of the conversation. It may encourage research and competition, but it could also reduce those traits.