Media Release

CELA Urges Feds to Appeal Oncomouse Decision to the Supreme Court

Sep 28 2000

Toronto. Time is up on October 3rd for the federal government to appeal the decision on Harvard College v. Commissioner of Patents (Canada). In a letter to Prime Minister Chrétien CELA has urged the federal government to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. At issue is the decision made in the Federal Court of Appeal on August 3, 2000 which overturned the decisions of the Federal Court Trial Division and the Canadian Commissioner of Patents. Those earlier decisions had refused to give Harvard College a patent for the oncomouse or any other mammals bred to carry the same gene. CELA was an intervenor in the case, supporting the decision of the Patent Commissioner not to grant Harvard College a patent. As an intervenor, CELA cannot now appeal the case. Rather, it is up to the federal government to uphold its own Patent Commissioner's decision be appealing the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. This case has enormous ramifications with respect to life form patenting raising numerous ethical, ecological, legal and health issues which need to be weighed by Parliament. Life form patenting requires the careful scrutiny of public policy making where safeguards, rules, boundaries, practices and limits must be established in law. CELA considers it unacceptable for life form patenting to proceed without such an examination. If an appeal is not filed by the federal government, patents will be issued and the opportunity for a full legislative review of these issues will be lost.- 30 -For more information:Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, CELA 416-960-2284 Paul Muldoon, Executive Director and Counsel, CELA 416-960-2284 Michelle Swenarchuk, Counsel and Director of International Programmes, CELA 416-960-2284