Animal Patenting

How Would You Like Your Mouse–With Tumors or Without?

The first bioengineered animal, patented in 1988 and called the “Harvard oncomouse,” was programmed with a gene predisposing it to cancer. Harvard researcher Philip Leder developed the animal, and chemical giant DuPont owns exclusive rights to the patent. The contorversial milestone brought together religious groups, scientists, farmers, environmentalists and animal rights activists, all opposed to the patenting of life. “The technique of custom-making a rodent, considered the stuff of science fiction a decade ago, has become almost low-tech…so routine at many laboratories that [the president of GenPharm International of Mountain view,California] David Winter calls it ‘dial-a-mouse,’” reported Marla Cone in May 1993 article in the Los Angeles Times. GenPharm’s corporate development director Howard Rosen agrees: “We do ‘custom tailor’ mice.”