Genetic commons in the making – the Guardian view on gene patenting | Editorial

The emergence of MLAs in China, Brazil and Japan indicates how far along the road to genetic engineering has already travelled

The World Economic Forum reports that over 200 million people now enjoy protection against patenting of genes. This number includes patents to genes intended to develop major diseases like Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s disease, melanoma, obesity, diabetes, and others.

This development not only represents a key triumph in the fight against patenting of human genes, but has also been hailed as a critical step toward securing a “Genetic Commons” in which we can work together to make sure that genes designed to bring health and welfare benefits are shared equally.

By August 2018, 93 genes were in the public domain, but the results of a comprehensive global survey reveal that more than 500 genes are patentable to the richest individuals in the world. The emerging public understanding of the genomic revolution is an invaluable reminder of how much further we still have to go to realise its potential for public health, development, and care.

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