In a commentary in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Steven Salzberg says gene patenting is "a very bad idea," adding that gene patents "interfere with scientific progress, slowing down the development of new cures and treatments for genetic diseases." Genes are not invented by people, and that alone should disqualify them from being patentable, Salzberg says.
Even if gene patenting continues to be allowed, he adds, "scientists should refuse to file them for another reason: any scientist who files a gene patent is, perhaps unknowingly, participating in a process that violates the basic rules by which science operates." Patenting requires that a discovery or research being done is kept secret for the benefit of a few people, and scientists should be working to ensure that their work is disseminated and shared with as many people as possible, Salzberg says. Patent lawyers shouldn't dictate science, he adds — "if the patent lawyers win, then science loses."