Religious voices in biotechnology: the case of gene patenting

Genetic Resour. 1999;12(1-2):5-22.


On 18 May 1995, nearly 200 religious leaders joined with leading biotechnology critic Jeremy Rifkin in a press conference named the "Joint Appeal against Human and Animal Patenting," a move that many within the biotechnology industry could only interpret as seeking to inhibit biotechnological advance. What moral and religious concerns motivated this challenge to patenting? How could the biotechnology industry understand and respectfully attend to these concerns? What values were at play in the debates that followed the joint appeal? What lessons for future dialogue can be learned from attempts at conversation between the opposing positions? This essay is a report from a Hastings Center research project that accepted the task of addressing these questions. Specifically, the project focused on the patenting of human genetic material, a subset of the issues raised by the joint appeal.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Biotechnology* / ethics
  • Commodification
  • DNA*
  • Genes*
  • Humans
  • Ownership
  • Patents as Topic / ethics*
  • Patents as Topic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Personhood
  • Religion and Science
  • Religion*
  • Social Values
  • Theology
  • United States


  • DNA