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Body Corporate: Who Owns Your Genes?

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School Bd/College/University DVD: $325


Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Filmakers Library
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 45 mins
Country of Origin: Australia
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2011
Available in French: No

Right now across the globe there is a major legal and scientific war raging over one simple question: should we allow individuals and corporations to patent genes?

Everyday we walk around, encountering a genetic whirlpool of people of different shapes and colors, barely conscious that 4000 of the 20,000 genes inside each of us belong to biotech companies. Some biotech companies claim patents reward medical research and promote the investigation of life saving treatments. Others see it very differently, describing patenting as a biotech land-grab that's less about patients and more about greed. For example, if a person carries the breast cancer gene, he/she has a 50 to 85 per cent chance of contracting the disease. But the cost of this testing is prohibitive.

In Body Corporate, reporter Andrew Fowler travels in the United States and Australia to hear from both sides in this high-stakes controversy. Who is right? Can the very basis of life itself be patented and sold? Is it possible that a unique gene that makes us what we are could be patented by someone we don't know and then franchised out to a major corporation?

These questions will be resolved in the courtrooms as companies with multi-million dollar investments are prepared to battle all the way to the Supreme Court.

Featuring interviews with:
  • Professor John Shine, Executive Director of Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Professor of Medicine and Molecular Biology, University of New South Wales
  • Dr. Mark Skolnick, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Myriad Genetics
  • Dr. Sean Grimmond, Professor of Genomics, Institute of Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Dr. Wendy K. Chung, human geneticist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Columbia University

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