13th Amendment Blocks Patents on Stem Cell and Cloning Technologies

August 21, 2001


Carlos Eugenio Vargas

Lawyer for Coopetrabasur and board member of Agrofair.

Yocser Carranza Godoy

Banana farmer from Costa Rica. He is President of the worker-controlled cooperative called coopetrabasur.

As research in the areas of stem cells and cloning continues to progress, various American and European biotechnology companies are racing to patent new techniques and technologies. However, they are running into barriers in the form of laws against the ownership of human beings. In the US, the 13th Amendment, which was drafted to abolish slavery and outlaws the ownership of people, makes the language of more ambiguous patents troublesome because of references to the cloning of "animals," including humans. Europe also has universal bans on the patenting of technology related to the cloning of humans, but the European patent office has made a number of errors allowing for such procedures to become privatized in the past.