Strasbourg supports gene patenting

17 July 1997

Strasbourg supports gene patenting

The European Parliament has approved a controversial gene patenting
directive which aligns rules on patenting of genetic material with those
in the US and Japan.

Amendments have been added to address ethical objections, which had
previously stopped the directive being passed. These include:

  • ruling out
    the patenting of animal races and plant varieties;
  • excluding from
    patenting procedures for human cloning or modifying the human genetic
  • and balancing the substantial medical usefulness of the
    inventions in question against the suffering that certain inventions
    could inflict on animals.

    Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies wanted the directive to
    harness the increasing knowledge of diseases with genetic causes to
    develop treatments. Agricultural companies say they needed the directive
    so as to be able to get legal protection when they develop new varieties
    of crop and livestock. The directive now awaits final parliamentary

  • Financial Times 17/07/97 page 2

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