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 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...