The issue regarding ethical, economic, and environmental concerns of gene
editing humans and other organisms remains in the middle of an argument as
governments lack feasible and concrete approach in treating such technology.
Professor Shobita Parthasarathy from University of Michigan has a
recommendation to resolve this issue - patents.
In an article in Nature, Prof. Parthasarathy writes that the solution to the
problem is "hiding in plain sight" as she tackles the usage of the patent
system in monitoring past technologies, such as George Westinghouse's
alternating current (AC). The professor says that using the patent system
would open doors for public discussion and elaborates this suggestion by
citing the European Union's way of regulating biotechnological inventions,
which includes granting patents to modified animals only if the benefit
outweighs the harm. The professor also mentions how a team from
Massachusetts Institute of Technology has obtained patent for "gene drive,"
which requires the licensing body to inform the owner of the usage of the
Prof. Parthasarathy suggests the patent system for gene editing to be
government-driven, saying that this approach would be more transparent and
politically legitimate than private efforts. This approach could involve an
advisory committee, composed of experts in the fields of environmental
protection, patent and trademark, human health, technology assessment,
social science, law, history, and science. Using such framework would enable
the government to evaluate which patents are important for public interest
and monitor the end-use and pricing of the end-products.