Who Owns Our Genes?

It's not for nothing that scientists are in such a footrace to get the human genome mapped. There's more than just knowledge at stake, after all--there's money. Who walks away with most of the booty won't be decided in labs or universities, however, but in courts and patent offices.

Though deciphering the entire human genetic blueprint is still a few years away, scientists have begun laying claim to the stretches of DNA whose codes they have succeeded in cracking. In recent years researchers have flooded the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with applications for thousands of genes and gene fragments--and they...

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