28 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2008
Date Written: November 12, 2008
Patent protection for genetic enhancements would tend to spur genetic innovation, but would tend to limit access to those genetic enhancements through discriminatory mechanisms such as price and favoritism. The patent system would likely ensure high rates of genetic enhancement innovation, research, and development, efficiently mediate access to genetic enhancements, but would also likely allow access to genetic enhancements to fewer members of society. Most importantly, the patent system has the potential to promote the kinds of genetic enhancements that might lead to human evolutionary change. Public policy and the law must grapple with the implications of genetic enhancement before current technological possibilities become societal realities. The patent system is an odd candidate to become a substantial arbiter of parental decisions regarding genetic enhancement of their offspring. It is certain that the implications the patent system has for future human genetic enhancement should be subjected to thorough analysis and debate prior to the imminent arrival of human genetic enhancement technologies. Otherwise, patent law may drive human evolution in directions either unplanned - or worse - undesired.
Keywords: patent, gene, genetic, genetic engineering, genetic modification, evolution, human evolution, genetic enhancement, human genetic enhancement, human evolution
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K11, K19, K20, K23, K29, K30, K32, K39, K40, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Torrance, Andrew W., Patenting Human Evolution (November 12, 2008). Kansas Law Review, Vol. 56, p. 1075, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1300615