§ Dr. Moonie
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what guidelines he has produced for the research councils on the patenting of human genes; what discussions he has had on this subject with his European counterparts; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
I have been asked to reply.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 1 February, Official Report, columns 619–20. This reply makes it clear that the Office of Science and Technology supports the policy of the Medical Research Council in not filing any further patent applications for human DNA sequences of unknown function.
I am very happy to inform the hon. Member that the United States National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Council have today agreed to withdraw their patent applications for cDNA sequences of unknown utility. The MRC, with the support of the Government, has always argued that these applications should not be granted. I welcome the co-operation between the United Kingdom and the United States on this important issue.