Should the Government Grant Patents on Human Beings?

Pro-life Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas is working to save language in the omnibus appropriations bill that will ban the patenting of human embryos and fetuses.

Biotechnology companies oppose Brownback’s amendment because they want to retain the right to patent genetically-engineered human embryos just as they now patent genetically altered plants and animals. Brownback’s opponents originally claimed that the House version of the amendment, sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon (R.-Fla.) — which passed in July — would forbid patenting of stem cell lines and other products derived from human tissue.

Responding to this argument, Brownback crafted the following clarification in the Senate version of the amendment: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect claims directed to or encompassing cells, tissues, organs, or other bodily components that are not themselves human organisms (including, but not limited to stem cells, stem cell lines, genes, and living or synthetic organs).”

Still, the biotech industry groups are opposed.

Weldon, who is a physician, tells HUMAN EVENTS that biotech companies “want to take a little kid with cystic fibrosis and make many of them and sell them. They want to move away from rats and mice and use human embryos and fetuses. I used to do bimolecular research and I know the direction these people want to go. You’re going to have storage rooms of racks with human embryos.”