The fight to patent genes goes all the way to the Supreme Court : Planet Money Who owns your genes, anyway? For a while, Big Biotech patented 20% of the human genome. Then a lawyer took them to the Supreme Court. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.
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All Your Genes Are Belong To Us

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All Your Genes Are Belong To Us

All Your Genes Are Belong To Us

All Your Genes Are Belong To Us

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/937167323/937324480" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
UNITED STATES - APRIL 15: Members of "Breast Cancer Action" protest against Myriad Genetics in front the U.S. Supreme Court as arguments start for Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. The case calls into question whether human DNA can be claimed as intellectual property, and remain off limits to everyone without the permission of the patent holder.
Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

In 2005, Chris Hansen, a lawyer at the ACLU, heard that a biotech company called Myriad Genetics had identified a gene responsible for most types of inherited breast and ovarian cancer... and then patented it.

With its patent, Myriad could effectively block anyone else from doing comprehensive testing or in some cases even doing research on the gene. And Chris thought that this was definitely not okay.

Today on the show, the story of the rise and fall of gene patents, and how the Supreme Court answered the question: Who do your genes belong to? It's Big Biotech versus the right to the information encoded in our very DNA, and how that fight went all the way to the Supreme Court. Come for the deoxyribonucleic acid — stay for the chocolate chip cookies and baseball bats.

Music: "Smoke and Mirrors," "Cosmic Cowboy," and "Jamrock We A Come From."

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