Monday, December 7, 2009

Koepsell, David. Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes.

Wiley-Blackwell. 2009. 187p. index. ISBN 9781405187312. $79.95. ISBN 9781405187305. $24.95

“Who owns you?” According to Koepsell (Assistant Professor, Philosophy Section, Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management, Technology University of Netherlands, Delft; Senior Fellow, 3TU Centre for Ethics and Technology, The Netherlands; Ph.D, Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1997; J.D., SUNY at Buffalo School of Law, 1995; B.A, Political Science/English, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1990; author of several books including The Ontology of Cyberspace as well as scholarly articles;, an author, attorney, philosopher, and educator, whose research has focused on the nexus of science, technology, ethics, and public policy, you may be surprised and alarmed to learn that biotechnology companies, universities, and other research institutions now own the exclusive rights to many parts of you. As the aforementioned entities rush to patent the human genes comprising the human genome—the genetic code that largely defines the distinct features of humans, of which one-fifth is fully patented-- gene patenting threatens to infringe upon the rights of individuals and hinder scientific and technological progress. It also violates international agreements and is contrary to historical and legal norms. In this noteworthy publication, the author provides the first, nearly comprehensive study of the practices and implications of gene patenting. Koepsell maintains that gene patenting is harmful and needs to be reexamined. Using scientific findings, philosophical conclusions, and ethical determinations based upon his examination of the ontology of genes, the author advocates immediate legal reform. Among other solutions, he argues in favor of partly revoking intellectual property laws in order to establish the naturally-occurring, human genome as a “commons by necessity” that will not be patentable by companies, universities, or other research institutions. Divided into nine chapters, covering the science of genes, their ontology, the legal dimensions of gene ownership, intellectual property laws, pragmatic considerations, and more, this accessible, expertly-argued, insightful, nicely-presented, sufficiently-documented, interdisciplinary study on the practices and implications of gene patenting will interest general readers as well as students, scholars, and professionals. It will serve as a significant resource for further understanding, knowledge, and research. This book belongs in many large, public, academic, and law library book collections. Highly recommended. Review copy. Availability: Amazon, Barnes &