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8. DNA as Taxable Property

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Chapter Summary

A double standard currently governs the commercialization of biological materials. Although intellectual property (IP) law allows researchers to capitalize on their contributions to a research enterprise, it denies donors of biological materials the right to compensation for their contributions. In contrast to proposals that seek to remedy this inequity by altering legal property rights themselves, the author argues that a new tax on cell and tissue products derived from a donor (or set of donors) could provide a means of ensuring a fairer distribution of the fruits of regenerative medicine and the commercial use of tissue in general. Taxation could take many forms. Obviously, current corporate income tax already acts to redistribute the corporate fortunes resulting from investments in biomedical research and the sale of the "Mo cell line" may be subject to a sales tax.

Keywords: biological materials; DNA; intellectual property (IP) law; Mo cell line; taxation; tissue products



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