Picture of a
neem tree in India.
The question of who owns a gene is a debatable subject. Companies developing genetically engineered organisms want to protect their work by patenting the genes. However, many people think that since the genes are present in nature, they should belong to all the people. They believe that genes are the same as life and it is immoral to patent them.
Many people are worried that the major biotechnology companies will have too much power, because once they have patented a gene, others cannot work on the same gene.
Case Study - The The neem tree of India.
The neem tree is a common tree in India. For centuries, the people of India have used the leaves of the neems to treat infection and prevent tooth decay. However, now companies are using the neems to develop dental care products, and they have patented the genes of the
neem. So, there is question of who owns the genes of the tree, the native Indians or the companies that have just discovered the values of the tree?