The author, Michael Crichton, writes scary thrillers about things that are all too real. But nothing — nothing — in his vast library of published work is as scary or real as the op-ed (free registration required) he wrote in today’s New York Times:
When SARS was spreading across the globe, medical researchers hesitated to study it — because of patent concerns. There is no clearer indication that gene patents block innovation, inhibit research and put us all at risk.
Yeah, you read that right. The patent system is so unbelievably, disgracefully broken that doctors and companies can patent the very genes in your body. Even more appalling, the current patent system actually encourages the research and development of new diseases and gene mutations for profit.
Two congressmen — Xavier Becerra, a Democrat of California, and Dave Weldon, a Republican of Florida — are doing what they can to ban the practice of patenting genes found in nature, although I suspect the absurdly high levels of special interest involvement on this issue will make their success very difficult.
Please write to your congressman and tell them you want them to put their support — your support — behind the Becerra/Weldon Genomic Research and Accessibility Act.