Property Rights and Benefit-Sharing for DNA Donors?

26 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2005

See all articles by Gary E. Marchant

Gary E. Marchant

Arizona State University - College of Law


The traditional assumption in most genetic research is that the donors of genetic material used in research act altruistically and are entitled to no property rights or direct benefit-sharing in the fruits of the research. This traditional assumption is now being challenged from several different directions. Some international ethics guidelines, advocacy organizations for families suffering from genetic diseases, and special populations such as Indian tribes are all pushing for greater control, rights, and benefit-sharing for genetic donors. The failure to resolve the tensions between these new demands and the traditional assumption of genetic research has the potential to create a bottleneck in the supply of genetic samples vital to the advancement of genetic research. This Article traces the recent controversies and trends that are challenging the traditional assumption that DNA donors in genetic research have no property or other rights in their donated material and outlines some alternative approaches for resolving this problem.

Keywords: Genetic research, property rights, benefit-sharing

JEL Classification: K11, K32, 118

Suggested Citation

Marchant, Gary E., Property Rights and Benefit-Sharing for DNA Donors?. Available at SSRN:

Gary E. Marchant (Contact Author)

Arizona State University - College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
(480) 965-3246 (Phone)
(480) 965-2427 (Fax)

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