Science: A Mouse That Roared

The first U.S. animal patent stirs up a storm in Congress

In biotechnology labs across the country, researchers hailed the decision as long overdue. Last week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent to Harvard University for the development of a genetically engineered mouse. Although plants and bacteria have been patented for years, the Harvard award was the first ever for an animal. On Capitol Hill, however, angry Congressmen promptly called for a two-year halt to any future animal patents until the risks and benefits can be better assessed. Fumed Republican Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon: "The Patent Office is playing fast and loose with a serious issue."

The Harvard...

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