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Ban on patenting human beings
underscored by House resolution


WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. House of Representatives has reinforced a federal policy barring the patenting of human beings.

The House passed by voice vote July 22 an amendment by Rep. Dave Weldon, R.-Fla., that affirmed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s prohibition on issuing patents on any human organism.

“No one should be able to own a human being at any stage of development,” Weldon said in a written statement. “Congress has never spoken to this issue, and I felt it was past time that we did. This amendment ensures that the [patent office] may not issue a patent on a human organism.”

Pro-life advocates have expressed concerns in recent years about support by some researchers for patenting human beings.

In his floor speech in favor of the amendment, Weldon cited recent research announced by a Chicago team of scientists. The researchers revealed in a June conference they had created “she-males” by injecting male cells into female embryos and allowing them to grow for six days. Their experiments were conducted for the purpose of finding cures for genetic disorders, they said. The researchers had expressed hopes of patenting the research, Weldon said.

“It is important that we, as a civilized society, draw the line where some rogue scientists fail to exercise restraint,” Weldon said in his speech, according to a text published by LifeNews.com. “Just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. A patent on such human organisms would last for 20 years. We should not allow such researchers to gain financially by granting them an exclusive right to practice such ghoulish research.”


Paige Cunningham, chairman of the board of Americans United for Life, said the patent office already has granted a patent that could cover human beings. The University of Missouri received a patent that “was written so broadly that it appears to include human cloning and products of cloning in its protection,” she said. “Theoretically, the patent could extend to include embryos, fetuses and children resulting from using the particular patented cloning method.”

The University of Missouri shares control of the patent with Bio Transplant, Inc., a Massachusetts biotech company.

Weldon’s amendment was attached to a 2004 appropriations bill for the departments of Commerce, Justice and State, as well as the federal judiciary.