Patent for cancer mouse 'violates Christian ethics'
Professor Andrew Linzey, a research fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford, warned that 'we have reached moral rock bottom' as a result of the decision by the European Patent Office (EPO) last May to grant a provisional patent for the 'Harvard Oncomouse' - a creature whose DNA has been altered by genetic engineering in the laboratory so that it will contract cancer. The statutory period for objections to the patent expires this month.
If the patent is ultimately successful, Professor Linzey warns, 'it will mark the lowest status granted to animals in the history of European ethics'.
In 1985, Harvard University applied for the patent to cover genetic engineering techniques developed by its scientists to graft cancer-causing genes into the DNA of mice embryos. The resultant mice have an inborn propensity to develop cancer. A patent has already been granted in the USA, and the American company DuPont has taken out a licence for the technology.
Professor Linzey said: 'We are caught in a humanistic cul-de-sac, in which the limits imposed by God are gone. The world is not ours to master and control; there are moral limits to what we can do with created nature. Our status is that of creatures, not creators.'
To grant a patent would be to treat animals as inventions made by human beings and Professor Linzey said Christian teaching specifically ruled out 'the notion that humans have the power to define (to 'name' in the Biblical sense) other creatures'.
The view that all nature was here for humanity to treat as it wished was a Hellenistic, rather than Christian, position.
A spokesman for the British Chartered Institute of Patent Agents, Dr Jonathan Davies, said that if the public wished to object to research on moral grounds then they can do so, 'but the patent system is not the way to do it'.
Article 53 of the European Patent Convention does prohibit the patenting of inventions whose exploitation would be contrary to morality or public order, Dr Davies said, but the patenting of new living organisms does not raise any new ethical or moral questions.
He pointed out that a patent merely conferred on an inventor a temporary monopoly on exploiting the invention. If the patent were denied, 'it would not stop DuPont from making and selling these mice - it would allow anyone else to sell them as well'.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassingly brilliant leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
‘Ryan Gosling got someone pregnant and it's not me. Brazil you think you’re devastated…’
Israel-Palestine crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Palestine crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
Vanessa Feltz criticises 'vile' reaction to Rolf Harris allegations
£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...
£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...