Human Genetics Alert
For immediate use 5/10/2000
Pig-human embryo patent called obscene
The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering (CAHGE; 1) has today condemned a patent application on hybrid pig-human embryos as obscene. The patent, discovered by Greenpeace Germany, belongs to the Australian company Stem Cell Sciences, which earlier this year was involved in controversy over another patent on cloned human embryos. The current patent application (2), includes cloned embryos created by fusing a pig egg with a human cell, and also claims cloned and genetically engineered human embryos. These human embryos would be sold by the companies. CAHGE calls on the European Patent Office to reject the patent and for the EU Biotechnology Patents Directive to be amended to ban the patenting of human genes, body parts and embryos.
Dr David King, coordinator of CAHGE, said: "I find it disgusting that companies are even contemplating cloning, genetic engineering and then patenting human embryos. These technologies are turning human life into a commodity. Those who believe that genetic engineering of humans is only a far-off threat should think again: companies are already gearing up and intend to make monopoly profits in the process."
For further information contact Dr David King on (44) (0)20 8809 4513. Greenpeace's press release can be found at www.greenpeace.org.
Notes to editors
1. The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering is a watchdog group focusing on issues related to human genetics and related technologies. CAHGE is not opposed to genetics research in principle, but is absolutely opposed to human cloning and germ-line genetic engineering. CAHGE is not a 'pro-life' organisation.
2. World patent WO 99/21415, published internationally on May 6 1999.