An ABC “Curious Canberra” article, “Who Owns My DNA When I Send it Off for Analysis?” September 12, 2016, has again drawn attention to an area where there is a great gap in the law, and where the science is way ahead of policy.
In the United States there have been a number of cases where this issue has been examined, most notably Moore v Regents of California (1990), heard by the Supreme Court of California. There, it was held that cells taken from a patient are not their property and therefore individuals have no rights to profits made by Big Med in use of the cells. The problem with the case is that the decision should have examined the information about the cells rather than the physical cells themselves, so the issue was not resolved. Other US cases have also upheld the rights of Big Med, seeing the social interest of medical research and corporate profits overriding personal privacy.