Medicine And The Media

Genetics: let the public decide

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 05 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1055
  1. Gail Vines, freelance journalist

    Just before Easter the front page of the Express pictured Marilyn Monroe alongside a banner headline “Genes for sale.” The newspaper's Toby Moore reported that a San Francisco based company called StarGene has teamed up with the owner of one of the world's largest hair collections to manufacture “celebrity DNA” for the “collectibles market.” According to the Express, the first product to go on sale in the United States will be a “Lincoln DNA watch.” The £200 watch will contain white crystalline DNA prepared from locks of the l9th century president's hair embedded in plastic.

    A bit of commercial fun, perhaps, but of course this is by no means DNA's first venture into the marketplace. The commodification of human DNA as patented genes, cell lines, and transgenic organisms is now proceeding apace. …

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