>Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 11:52:14 -0500
>From: Richard Wolfson <email@example.com>
>Subject: patent applied for to block genetic manipulation
>Thanks to MichaelP <firstname.lastname@example.org> for posting the following article:
>Thursday April 2, 6:35 pm Eastern Time
>U.S. writer, scientist ask for animal-human patent
>By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
>WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) - A biologist and a social activist said on
>Thursday they had teamed up in a patent application for creating a being
>that would be part human and part animal.
>But rather than seeking to make such a creature, they said they wanted to
>stop anyone else from doing it.
>``This is going to raise one of the great social and constitutional issues
>of all times -- can a human embryo be claimed as intellectual property?''
>Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, said in a
>Rifkin, a writer and economist who has battled against granting patents on
>living things, and Stuart Newman, a cellular biologist at New York Medical
>College in Valhalla, said they wanted to spark a debate on the issue.
>``It's going to force the patent office to deal with some uncomfortable
>questions,'' Newman, who helped found the Council for Responsible Genetics,
>told the Washington Post.
>The patent they have applied for describes a technique for mixing human
>cells with the cells of an animal -- perhaps a chimpanzee, which is closely
>related genetically to humans.
>Rifkin said a human-pig mix might be seen as useful for organ transplants,
>as pigs have already been experimented with for animal-to-human transplants.
>They want to patent the process from beginning to end -- from the test
>tube, to creation of any embryo, to its implantation in a surrogate mother
>and possible birth.
>``We are claiming a patent on the process and all the living products, so
>that means that any human-animal composite, any new human-animal chimera
>(created by the process described in the patent), that would be our
>intellectual property,'' Rifkin said.
>"This will be the test case."
>A similar method was used decades ago to make a ``geep,'' an animal that
>was part-sheep and part-goat.
>Other such animals, known as chimeras, technically already exist. Mice,
>rabbits, sheep and cows have been genetically engineered to carry human
>genes for making products ranging from alpha anti-trypsin, used to treat
>cystic fibrosis, to lactoferrin, which can boost the immune system.
>Companies also already hold patents on these animals, which usually only
>carry one or a few human genes, making them at the most only a fraction of
>a percent human.
>``We felt it was necessary to go right to the end of the line.'' said
>Rifkin, who wrote the book ``The Biotech Century.''
>He said a true chimera -- one that was perhaps 30 percent human -- was the
>ultimate prize of biotechnology companies.
>``At what point do the constitutional rights kick in?'' he asked. ``Can we
>create new subspecies and can they be claimed as intellectual property?''
>Rifkin said Ian Wilmut of Scotland's Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics
>Plc (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: PTH.L) had applied for a similar
>patent for his method of cloning animals -- a method that most famously
>produced Dolly the cloned sheep.
>PPL already holds patents on animals that carry human genes. Rifkin said
>Wilmut's cloning patent application included the creation of human embryos,
>although Wilmut has said he can see no reason for ever doing so.
>``If Wilmut is granted his patent, they couldn't possibly deny us,'' Rifkin
>Wilmut said he was not sure his patent application did cover humans. ``What
>we have written describes animals in general, but I have no idea how that
>will be viewed,'' he told Reuters in a telephone interview.
>He said he did not know why anyone would want to mix embryonic cells to
>create a human-animal chimera. ``It's not something which is clinically
>useful. I can't see what the potential uses would be and therefore, to be
>honest, it (Rifkin's patent) seems like a very silly idea.''
>** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
>is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
>in receiving the included information for research and educational
>Richard Wolfson, PhD
>Consumer Right to Know Campaign,
>for Mandatory Labelling and Long-term
>Testing of all Genetically Engineered Foods,
>500 Wilbrod Street
>Ottawa, ON Canada K1N 6N2
>tel. 613-565-8517 fax. 613-565-1596
>Our website, http://www.natural-law.ca/genetic/geindex.html
>contains more information on genetic engineering as well as
>previous genetic engineering news items
>Subscription fee to genetic engineering news is $35 for 12 months
>See website for details.
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