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Resolution On The Patenting Of Animal And Human Genes

WHEREAS, Since 1989 the United States government has been funding with tax dollars the massive development of genetic technology – the Human Genome Project – through the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy; and

WHEREAS, Genetic technology holds both the wonderful potential for the treatment and cure of as many as 4,000 genetically-linked illnesses and the hideous potential of increasing the number of abortions through prenatal genetic screening, cultivating a eugenic mind-set in the American public, and serving as the basis for patents for animal and human genes; and

WHEREAS, In 1980 the United States Supreme Court ruled, in a 5 to 4 decision in Diamond v. Chakrabarty, that the United States Patent Office could issue a patent on a genetically-modified living organism; and

WHEREAS, Since that time patents have been issued for genetically-altered animals, such as a mouse with cancer genes and all its progeny; and

WHEREAS, Patenting genetically-altered animals essentially confers ownership of an animal type, e.g., all mice with the cancer gene; and

WHEREAS, Efforts continue to be made to patent both animal genes and human tissues and gene sequences; and

WHEREAS, Patents grant sole proprietary rights (ownership) for seventeen years to the holder; and

WHEREAS, The scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments plainly teach that God alone is creator and owner of all he has made (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:15-16); and

WHEREAS, Humans are given the mandate to be stewards of the earth and of animal life, not usurpers of Gods prerogatives and not co-creators (Genesis 1:28); and

WHEREAS, Human legitimately may own individual or groups of animals of a given species, but not an entire species and its progeny; and

WHEREAS, Human life is uniquely made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27); and

WHEREAS, Leaders from virtually every major religion in the United States held a press conference on May 18, 1995, decrying the patenting of animal and human tissues and genetic sequences.

Be it therefore RESOLVED, That we, the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, do hereby affirm our conviction that God alone is Creator and owner of all creation; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we encourage the continued development of genetic technologies which contribute to the treatment and cure of genetic illnesses; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we encourage a national dialogue about the merits and liabilities of patenting animal and human genes; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That our national discussion include religious communities and their values, as well as the scientific community with its values; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we call upon the President, the Congress, the National Institutes of Health, and the United States Patent Office to place an immediate moratorium on the patenting of animal and human tissues and genetic sequences until a full and complete discussion has occurred.