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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Who Owns Your DNA?

Nov 26th, 2011

You might be surprised.

Brad Jacobson interviews Harriet Washington, author of the recently released Deadly Monopolies, about the four decade transformation of gene patenting law in the U.S. and its implications for the future. Washington states:
"We're vulnerable because if we undergo surgery in certain hospitals, such as the Harvard University hospitals or Duke and a number of others, we are given a consent form to sign, which will give a private corporation, in many cases Ardais [Corp.], the rights to any tissues or cells taken from our body, often described in the consent form as "discarded and worthless." But they're not worthless or the corporation wouldn't have bought them."
The cells and tissue she is referring to are increasingly being used to create millions, in some case billions, of dollars worth of research and medical materials. For lack of a better phrase, we are being farmed.
"Also, in many cities in this country -- in fact, in more than half the states -- have something called medical examiners laws, or presumed consent law. These laws dictate that a medical examiner or coroner in these cities, when someone dies, can take any tissues from your body that could have some medical value. Then they're transferred to a broker or two, who then eventually transfers them to surgeons or hospitals. At each step, there is a hefty fee paid. And then the institution pays a fee. So although it's against the law technically to sell an organ or sell these tissues, from my point of view they are actually being sold."
More and more, we are being regarded by some sectors of the for-profit scientific community as just so much raw material. Sleep tight.

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