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Technology & Innovation

Do You Own Your Own Body?

The human body has become a site for debates, as the genetics and biotech industries argue for owning genes, tissue samples, and even the very processes that occur in our cells.

Historically, new technologies have created new goods, which people then seek to turn into commodities. Take ownership of the airwaves, for example. Today, advances in genetics have us asking what parts and processes of the body are up for ownership. U.C.L.A. law professor Stuart Banner says: “It’s a really old question, the way that human body parts, or whole humans, or other sorts of living organisms can be property. It became kind of a sharp debate in the past few decades, partly from genetics, whether segments of the genome could be property, as well as the invention of new organisms.”


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