Ownership of Genetic Material and Information


The legal position on ownership of genetic material is a complex issue. The ethical issues surrounding the application of property rights to human genetic material also have to be considered.

Keywords: property; ownership; patents; databases; consent


Australian Health Ethics Committee (2001) Organs Retained at Autopsy: Ethical and Practical Issues. [http://www.rcpa.edu.au/docs/members/publications/uploads/publication_138.pdf].

Council of Europe (1997) Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with Regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine: Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

European Parliament (1996) Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the Legal Protection of Databases.

European Parliament (1998) Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions.

Gold ER (1996) Property Rights and the Ownership of Human Biological Materials. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Laurie GT (1996) Biotechnology and intellectual property: a marriage of inconvenience? In: McLean SAM (ed.) Contemporary Issues in Law, Medicine and Ethics, pp. 237–267. Aldershot, UK: Dartmouth.

Kennedy Report (2000) Bristol Royal Infirmary: The Removal and Retention of Human Material. [http://www.bristol‐inquiry.org.uk/interim/pdf/report.pdf].

McLean Report (2001) Scottish Review Group on the Retention of Organs at Post‐mortem. [http://www.show.scot.nhs.uk/scotorgrev/].

Medical Research Council (1999) Working Group on Human Tissue and Biological Samples for Use in Research: Report of the Medical Research Council Working Group to Develop Operational and Ethical Guidelines.London: Medical Research Council.

Redfern Report (2001) The Royal Liverpool Children's Inquiry. [http://www.rlcinquiry.org.uk/].

Further Reading

Grubb A (1998) I, me, mine: bodies, parts and property. Medical Law International 3: 299–317.

Hanson MJ (1999) Biotechnology and commodification within health care. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 24: 267–287.

Hoffmaster B (1992) Between the sacred and the profane: bodies, property, and patents in the Moore case. Intellectual Property Journal 7: 115–148.

Mason JK and Laurie GT (2001) Consent or property? Dealing with the body and its parts in the shadow of Bristol and Alder Hey. Modern Law Review 64: 710–729.

Mason JK, McCall Smith RA and Laurie GT (2002) Law and Medical Ethics. Edinburgh, UK: Butterworth‐Heinemann.

Web Links

http://www.canavanfoundation.org/ Canavan Foundation http://www.pxe.org/about.html

PXE International http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/LocusLink/LocRpt.cgi?l=443

aspartoacylase (aminoacylase 2, Canavan disease) (ASPA); Locus ID: 443. LocusLink: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/LocusLink/LocRpt.cgi?l=5823

pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE); Locus ID: 5823. LocusLink: http://www3.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/htbin‐post/Omim/dispmim?271900

aspartoacylase (aminoacylase 2, Canavan disease) (ASPA); MIM number: 271900. OMIM: http://www3.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/htbin‐post/Omim/dispmim?264800

pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE); MIM number: 264800. OMIM:

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How to Cite close
Laurie, Graeme(Jul 2006) Ownership of Genetic Material and Information. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0005190]