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The Social Life of Genes: Privacy, Property and the New Genetics
Social Science & Medicine (2003)
  • Margaret Everett, Portland State University
With the advent of the Human Genome Project and widespread fears over human cloning and medical privacy, a number of states have moved to protect genetic privacy. Oregon's unique Genetic Privacy Act of 1995, which declared that an individual had property rights to their DNA, has provoked national and international interest and controversy. This paper critically reviews the literature on genetic privacy and gene patenting from law, philosophy, science and anthropology. The debate in Oregon, from 1995 to 2001, illustrates many of the key issues in this emerging area. Both sides of the debate invoke the property metaphor, reinforcing deterministic assumptions and avoiding more fundamental questions about the integrity of the body and self-identity. The anthropological critique of the commodification of the body, and the concept of ‘embodiment’ are useful in analyzing the debate over DNA as property.
Publication Date
January, 2003
Citation Information
Margaret Everett. "The Social Life of Genes: Privacy, Property and the New Genetics" Social Science & Medicine Vol. 56 Iss. 1 (2003)
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