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Angelina Jolie, corporate patents on genes, and the U.S. Supreme Court

Thursday, May 16, 2013
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Angelina Jolie, gene patents, Supreme Court decision

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(NaturalNews) Editor's note: Because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that handed the biotech companies a resounding defeat in their effort to try to patent human genes, we are updating this story by removing the original content (which was largely based on factors leading up to the Supreme Court decision) and replacing it with the far more important news of what happened with the Supreme Court decision.

Regardless of what you think about Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy, the bottom line at this point is that the corporations failed to monopolize the human genome, and now a precedent has been set for humanity to be free from having genes dominated by corporate entities. This is a victory for humanity, and Natural News is proud to have played a significant role in the activism that led to that victory.

Here are the details on the Supreme Court victory decision:

Supreme Court strikes down corporate patents on human genes

In a unanimous ruling, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that human genes cannot be patented. The ruling invalidates the thousands of patents that have already been granted on human genes, including the patent by Myriad Genetics on the BRCA breast cancer genes which the company says no one else can research or even detect without paying it a royalty. Click here to read the complete ruling.

"Myriad did not create anything," said Justice Clarence Thomas. "To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention."

Well, exactly. This point should have been obvious to the lower courts, too, but in today's world of corporate domination over seemingly everything, gene industry lawyers were able to argue that patent protection would somehow inspire more innovation and research. "The biotechnology industry had warned that an expansive ruling against Myriad could threaten billions of dollars of investment," wrote Reuters.

But exactly the opposite is true. Gene patents restricted research and created medical monopolies that raised prices for consumers. Even USA Today seemingly gets this point, saying, "The decision represents a victory for cancer patients, researchers and geneticists who claimed that a single company's patent raised costs, restricted research and sometimes forced women to have breasts or ovaries removed without sufficient facts or second opinions."

The ACLU, which argued the case before the Court, said, "By invalidating these patents, the Court lifted a major barrier to progress in further understanding how we can better treat and prevent diseases."

Corporate efforts to influence the Supreme Court ultimately failed

Had the Supreme Court upheld the patentability of human genes, it would have unleashed a horrifying new era of corporations and universities rushing to claim monopoly patent protection on every gene in the human genome. Virtually no one in the media covered this angle other than Natural News. We warned readers that everything found in nature could then be patented: blades of grass, insects, human ears, eye colors, hair colors... anything encoded with DNA.

It's clear that powerful forces were at work behind the scenes to try to influence this Supreme Court decision, but they failed. Ultimately, the court discovered a moment of unanimous sanity... something we see so rarely that perhaps it deserves patent protection, too.

Huge loss for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries

It's important to note that this decision is a huge loss for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, both of which relentlessly seek total domination over all forms of life on the planet through monopoly patent protection. The biotech industry, of course, would love to patent all seeds and food crops -- even ones it hasn't genetically engineered. And the pharmaceutical industry would love to patent every human gene, thereby claiming literal ownership over every human being born into the world.

Myriad Genetics tried every desperate argument to convince the court that human genes should be patentable by corporations. They even rolled out a whacky "baseball bat theory" which claims it's an "invention" to decide where to start and end a gene sequence:

"A baseball bat doesn't exist until it's isolated from a tree. But that's still the product of human invention to decide where to begin the bat and where to end the bat." - Myriad lawyer Gregory Castanias.

That absurd argument claims that the mere deciding of which genes to snip out of DNA strands somehow makes all genes corporate property. Thankfully, the court did not agree with the baseball bat theory. As Chief Justice John Roberts explained:

"The baseball bat is quite different. You don't look at a tree and say, well, I've cut the branch here and cut it here and all of a sudden I've got a baseball bat. You have to invent it."

Huge victory for humanity

Ultimately, this decision is a tremendous victory for all humankind because it prevents the power-hungry, evil-bent medical and biotech corporations from claiming ownership over genetic sequences that already occur in nature.

This ruling means the biotech industry cannot patent common plants and animals, either. They can't patent human body parts or human gene sequences. Yes, the industry can still patent synthetically-created genes, said the Supreme Court, but that's something they would actually have to create rather than merely discover in an already-existing organism.

Today's ruling also means that men and women will have access to far less expensive testing for gene sequences in their own bodies. Currently, women who want to test themselves for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes must pay as much as $4,000 for the test due to the monopoly "ownership" of those genes by Myriad Genetics. But now that the Supreme Court has ruled such patents are invalid, prices for the test should drastically fall over time as competition enters the picture. Ultimately, the test could eventually be offered for as little as $100.

The ruling also means that other companies can conduct research on those genes without first seeking permission from Myriad. This will actually spur more innovation, potentially leading to more advanced genetic analysis tests that might help people better understand their health risks (and hopefully encourage them to change their diets and lifestyle choices to avoid expressing those genes).

In a world that seems increasingly dominated by corporate monopolies and biotechnology insanity, this ruling is a breath of fresh air. It confirms that corporations cannot patent naturally-occurring things which have been in existence for hundreds of thousands of years, and it confirms that when you have a child through an act of genetic replication, corporations cannot force you to pay royalties for your own child.

This is a decision of fundamental freedom, which is why I'm shocked the court actually ruled this way. This must be one of those rare moments of sanity in a Supreme Court that otherwise seems intent on destroying human liberty, dignity and justice.

Decision shows the important work of ACLU in protecting human rights against corporate domination

We must all thank the ACLU on this decision, as it was the ACLU which argued this to victory.

"Over the last 30 years, the U.S. Patent Office has issued patents on thousands of human genes, including genes associated with colon cancer, Alzheimer's disease, muscular dystrophy, and many other devastating diseases. The status quo meant that companies controlling gene patents had the right to stop all other scientists from examining, studying, testing, and researching our genes," the ACLU wrote in a press release.

The ACLU further wrote:

We celebrate the Court's ruling as a victory for civil liberties, scientific freedom, patients, and the future of personalized medicine. It also demonstrates the power of creating alliances and fighting for the public interest. The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation filed the case four years ago on behalf of twenty plaintiffs, including organizations representing over 150,000 medical professionals, geneticists, breast cancer and women's health advocacy groups, and patients. Few thought we had a chance against the decades-long Patent Office practice as well as the entrenched industry position. But litigation can be a strong tool in producing change, never more than when diverse communities come together. Here, the medical, scientific, and patient communities united, and were soon joined by many others, eventually including the U.S. government. We honor the contributions everyone made to our success today.

The ACLU, by the way, has also filed suit against the NSA's Patriot Act phone surveillance.

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

In late 2013, Adams launched the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, where he conducts atomic spectroscopy research into food contaminants using high-end ICP-MS instrumentation. With this research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products to low levels by July 1, 2015.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released ten popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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