The Commercialization of Human Genetics: Future Policy Concerns

Timothy Caulfield


The Human Genome Project may be the most commercially driven large scale scientific endeavor in the history of mankind. Since its inception, in the early 1990's, genetics and biotechnology have been increasingly cast as an important part of our economic future. This paper seeks to highlight a number of the benefits and concerns associated with the commercialization of genetics and genetic research with particular emphasis on the commercialization of the research environment and gene patents. The author notes that the commercialization of the university environment may lead to a reduction in pubic trust and decreased enthusiasm for the products of the "genetic revolution". In some countries, including Canada, there is a growing conflict between the typically "pro-patent" innovation policy and the necessity to reduce the cost of publicly funded health care.

Key words: Human Genome Project - Genetics - Commercialization - Health policy -Patent 


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