Property and Human Genetic Information

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Do donors (of samples from which genetic information is derived) have some sort of pre-legal (moral) or legal property right tothat information? In this paper, we address this question from both a moral philosophical and a legal point of view. We argue thatphilosophical theories about property do not seem to support a positive answer: We have not mixed our labour with our genes,and the human genome cannot be said to be a fitting object for private ownership based on some idea of self-ownership. Ananalysis of the term ‘property’ as seen from a legal perspective yields the conclusion that property is, at best, a linguistic propwhose real content has to be defined at least partially conventionally. Relevant interests that may be seen to be protected seem tobe interests of privacy or interests against exploitation. To the extent that the logic behind the patent system holds true limitingincentives decreases innovation in society. A balancing of interest must take place, and we have to make sure that patentprotection serves general societal interests and not just those of special interest groups be that inventors or donors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 186865306