The Human Genre Project


Genetic Agony Aunt

Health and Rights, with Harvey Brilliant, PhD in Law.
Nature, 4 May 2056, Vol 471, Number 9696, p42

" My husband and I want babies, but we have met with a problem. After
consulting with three eugenists, they tell us that any possible combination
of our genes that can result in a healthy baby is covered by patents, and
that we don't have enough money to cover the licenses. Is this true? I am
attaching our genetic profiles, our property portfolios, our payroll
statements, and our tax returns for the past five years. "
-- Martyred Mother in Melbourne

Luckily, that's not completely true. Some of those patents can be avoided by
using an intron randomiser. Reproductive health clinics don't usually give
out this information because random gene sequencing is subject to statutory
licenses since the WIPO treaty of 2027, and their margins are very slim. A
more complex and expensive method is the usage of alternative codons for
espressing the proteins covered by the patents, as we are talking about
process patents, which don't cover the proteins as such.

However, this still leaves you under the GenIntech patent portfolio on the
immune system. Their bomb-proof strategy was designed by the famous legal
team of the genetic division at IBM. Even therapies that modify the
non-conserved domains of the proteins in dispute are covered by the patents;
they are that thorough. So you are right, and your husband and you can't
afford a healthy baby. You will have to have a baby with a minor disease and
then seek a cure within your budget.

My advice is that you go for a celiac baby. Celiac disorder has been
successfully treated with retrovirus since 2042, and there is a freely
licensed solution (under the Free Software Foundation's General Genetic
License) since 2048. The patents are still valid, but they can be licensed
at very affordable prices, as they were adquired by the Open Genetics
Consortium after Pfizer-Monsanto went bankrupt last year. If your husband and
you don't have the genes for celiac disease, you will have to buy them from
a donor.

The best place for the procedure is Jinling, in China. It's the only
country that implemented a genetic copyright exception to the 2027 treaty;
in all other countries, donors keep derivative rights over their genes, so
they would have a claim over your grandchildren. Not so in China. On top of
that, after the Great Demographic Collapse the Yuan has become dirt cheap,
so with a second mortgage on your house you can have a healthy baby with
a 97.5% probability and a resort holiday thrown in. Congratulations!

Javier Candeira