BIO Opposes Brownback Amendment

Dear Majority Leader Daschle:

     The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) opposes Senator Brownback's patent amendment to S. 2600, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, now under consideration by the U.S. Senate. The Brownback amendment would set a reckless precedent threatening U.S. patent laws and would thwart promising stem cell research and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 states.

     The Brownback amendment would preclude the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from granting patents on products and processes derived from somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Opening up the patent laws to carve out specific subject matter sets a dangerous precedent and is, in fact, unnecessary because under the PTO's existing policy, a patent cannot issue to any subject matter that encompasses a human being.

     The Brownback amendment is a "backdoor" way of stopping stem cell research and SCNT in the United States of America. By removing the economic incentive to do this research, the amendment would effectively stop investment and research activity in this nation. Furthermore, Brownback's proposal is inconsistent with U.S. positions taken during international treaty negotiations. At the World Trade Organization (WTO) and elsewhere, the United States has consistently fought to provide broad patent coverage for biotechnology inventions.

     Intellectual property protection is the foundation of American biotechnology and other high technology industries. The law's stability has been crucial to the development of more than 130 drugs and vaccines that have helped more than 350 million patients worldwide. The preservation of a supportive intellectual property framework will be just as essential to future therapies, which we fully expect will spring from nascent stem cell and SCNT research.

     We strongly urge you to oppose this amendment. If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 962-9200.

Sincerely,

Carl B. Feldbaum
President
Biotechnology Industry Organization

CBF:LF:ks