From Representative Xavier Becerra's website:
Friday, February 09, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Assistant to the Speaker and the only congressional member from Southern California on the House Committee on Ways and Means, today introduced the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act, a bill that once enacted, would put an immediate end to the practice of patenting any and all portions of the human genome. Rep. Dave Weldon, M.D. (FL-15) joined Rep. Becerra as the co-author of the legislation.
The legislation gives guidance to the USPTO on what is not patentable – in this case genetic material, naturally-occurring or modified. It is not retroactive – it does not rescind the patents already issued. Patents are granted for a period of 20 years from the date that an application is originally filed.
“Thus, if we enact this bill into law quickly, we will reach balance in less than two decades – a patent-free genome that does not hinder scientific research, business enterprise, or human morality,” Rep. Becerra said.
“We seek simply to fix a regulatory mistake,” Rep. Becerra said. “Genes are a product of nature; they were not created by man, but instead are the very blueprint that creates man, and thus, are not patentable. Gene patenting would be the analogous equivalent to patenting water, air, birds or diamonds.
“Enacting the Genomic Research and Accessibility Act does not hamper invention, indeed, it encourages it. The proliferation of scientific prowess, medical innovation, and economic advancement will all occur if the study of genes is allowed to happen unabated. Incredible manifestations of intellectual property will result: medicines, machines, processes – most deserving of recognition, some potentially life-saving, and all worthy of a patent."
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