In early October, Greenpeace Germany exposed a patent application
the European Patent Office (EPO) for embryos produced by putting
DNA into pig eggs. The EPO then announced that it considered
claims" in the application to be "contrary to morality."
thereafter, the two companies that had filed the patent application
said they would abandon it, and would no longer include human
in their patents anywhere in the world.
The patent, filed by Massachusetts-based BioTransplant Inc.
Cell Sciences (Australia), covered the cloning of human embryos
mixed-species embryos from pigs, cows, sheep, and humans. It
covered the genetic manipulation of those embryos. According
application, company scientists had already produced pig-human
The companies were presumably interested in non-reproductive
for the purposes of producing tissue or organ transplants for
using their own cells, which would be immunologically compatible.
Greenpeace pointed out, however, that "[n]o specific concrete
reasons were given. . ..The experiments were performed mainly
demonstrate that such nuclear transfer technology could be applied
humans as well as animals, with the intention to then obtain
patent on the technology used and on the embryos produced."
Greenpeace called for changing the European Union Patent Directive
to prohibit all patents on life. "The existing patenting
the driving force behind a kind of speculative research in the
to claim ownership of new techniques," it said.
The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering, a British group,
condemned the patent application as "obscene." Coordinator
David King said, "These technologies are turning human
a commodity. Those who believe that genetic engineering of humans
is only a far-off threat should think again: companies are already
gearing up and intend to make monopoly profits in the process."