Patenting Human Genes

  • Aired:  06/19/13
  •  | Views: 19,139

John Hodgman analyzes the financial repercussions of the Supreme Court's decision on human gene patenting. (5:26)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE).

>> John: WELCOME BACK.

THE SUPREME COURT THIS WEEK

ISSUED AN INTERESTING-- IF

OBVIOUS-- RULING.

>> WE TURN NOW TO THE SUPREME

COURT'S DECISION TODAY ON GENES

AND ITS IMPACT FOR PATIENTS AND

MEDICAL RESEARCH.

THE JUSTICES UNANIMOUSLY RULED

THAT A COMPANY CANNOT PATENT AN

ISOLATED HUMAN GENE.

>> John: UM, YES, CLEARLY THEY

CAN'T.

OF COURSE A CORPORATION CAN'T

PATENT HUMAN GENES.

HOW DID THIS QUESTION EVEN GET

TO THE SUPREME COURT?

WE DON'T LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE

BUSINESSES CAN PATENT HUMAN

GENES BECAUSE WE DON'T LIVE IN A

(BLEEP)ING PHILLIP K. DICK SHORT

STORY.

(LAUGHTER)

AND WHAT COMPANY WOULD EVEN WANT

TO DO THIS?

>> THE CASE INVOLVED MYRIAD

GENETICS, A COMPANY THAT HOLDS

PATENTS ON GENES CORRELATED WITH

HEREDITARY BREAST AND OVARIAN

CANCER KNOWN AS BRCA 1 AND BRCA

2.

MYRIAD SELLS THE GENETIC TESTS

FOR THOSE CANCERS.

>> John: OH, SO THAT'S FINE.

I CLEARLY MISUNDERSTOOD.

IT SOUNDED BAD AT FIRST BUT IT

WAS JUST A COMPANY ATTEMPTING TO

OWN THE BASIC BUILDING BLOCKS OF

LIFE SO THEY COULD PROFIT OFF

PEOPLE'S FEAR OF CANCER.

OH, THAT'S FINE.

FOR MORE ON THIS WE TURN TO OUR

RESIDENT DERANGED MILLIONAIRE

JOHN HODGMAN.

JOHN?

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN, I HAVE TO SAY, THIS SEEMS

LIKE A LOW POINT FOR CAPITALISM.

>> LAUGH HRAFS THANK YOU VERY

MUCH, JOHN, THAT'S VERY NICE.

BUT YOU KNOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN

LOWER AND IT STINGS WE WERE SO

CLOSE THAT WE COULD PATENT

GENES, WE COULD PATENT ANYTHING:

KIDNEYS, THE HUMAN HAND!

JUST LAST WEEK I NEARLY LOCKED

DOWN THE PATENT ON THE MUSTACHE.

(LAUGHTER)

OH!

I'D BE ROLLING IN HIPSTER TRUST

FUND MONEY NOW IF IT HADN'T BEEN

FOR THOSE MEDDLING JUSTICES.

>> John: BUT, JOHN, THEY'RE

JUST PROTECTING OUR BASIC

GENETIC INFORMATION.

>> THAT'S WHAT THEY THINK

THEY'RE DOING BUT THEY'RE REALLY

JUST HOLDING GENES BACK.

GENES ARE JUST ANOTHER NATURAL

RESOURCE READY TO BE EXPLOITED.

LIKE CORN.

WHAT IS IT IN NATURE?

JUST A USELESS SIX FOOT HIGH

WEED.

(LAUGHTER)

BUT THEN MONSANTO COMES ALONG

AND ELEVATES THAT PATHETIC

(BLEEP) STALK INTO A HIGHLY

CALORIC GOO THAT CAN BE

GLORIOUSLY INJECTED INTO EVERY

PRODUCT AND PERSON IN THE WORLD

FOR MONEY!

>> John: I MEAN, THAT'S

ABSOLUTELY AWFUL.

>> JOHN, JOHN, CALM DOWN.

HAVE A DRINK OF WATER, JOHN.

>> John: OKAY, SURE, THANK

YOU.

>> PLEASE USE THE PART OF YOUR

MOUTH THAT HAS THE MOST D.N.A.

IN IT.

IT.

>> John: HOLD ON!

YOU'RE TRYING TO SALE MY GENES!

>> I SEE.

SO YOU'RE ONE OF "THEM" TRYING

TO STIFLE MY PROPRIETARY

RESEARCH.

DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS

RULING HAS DONE TO FREE MARKET

INNOVATION?

>> TODAY'S DECISION IS A BIG

BLOW TO FREE MARKET INNOVATION.

THIS WATERS DOWN THE RATE OF

RETURN THAT INVESTORS GET.

>> LINCOLN WOULD HAVEN'T LIKED

THIS.

LINCOLN WOULD HAVE WANTED THESE

PEOPLE TO BE REWARDED!

>> THAT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

IF ABRAHAM LINCOLN STOOD FOR

ANYTHING IT WAS THE CAPITALIST

RIGHT TO OWN AND PROFIT OFF THE

HUMAN BODY.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> John: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO

EVEN BEGIN TO START TO ARGUE

WITH THAT STATEMENT.

>> THEN DON'T BOTHER.

THE FACT IS, WITHOUT THE PROFIT

MOTIVE YOU CAN'T HAVE SCIENCE.

IF INVESTORS CAN'T MAKE MONEY,

WHY WOULD ANYONE TRY TO CURE

CANCER IN THE FIRST PLACE?

>> John: TO CURE CANCER!

I'M NOT A BUSINESSMAN BUT I

THINK IF YOU CURED CANCER YOU

WOULD STILL MAKE LOT OF MONEY!

>> A LOT OF MONEY BUT NOT ALL OF

THE MONEY.

(LAUGHTER)

BUT, HEY, JOHN, WE'RE FRIENDS.

LET'S NOT ARGUE.

WANT TO GO GET A MANNY PEDIDI?

LET ME CLIP YOUR FINGERNAILS

INTO THESE TEST TUBES.

>> John: STOP TRYING TO STEAL

MY GENES.

>> OH, YOU KNOW WHAT I FEEL

LIKE?

A NICE CHEEK SWAB.

A REFRESHING RECTAL CREPE.

WE'LL MAKE IT A SPA DAY!

>> John: I CANNOT EMPHASIZE

THIS EMPHATICALLY ENOUGH-- YOU

WILL NOT BE SCRAPING MY RECTUM.

>> OKAY, I WAS HOPING FOR A

FRESH GENETIC SAMPLE BUT I'LL

JUST HAVE TO GO WITH PLAN "B,"

THIS OLD BAG OF YOUR PUBIC

HAIRS.

(AUDIENCE REACTS).

>> John: WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!

WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?

>> I WOULDN'T WORRY ABOUT IT.

>> John: I AM PROFOUNDLY

WORRIED ABOUT IT.

>> SEE, JOHN, THE SUPREME COURT

DECISION LEFT ME ONE LITTLE

LOOPHOLE.

NATURALLY OCCURRING GENES CAN

NOT BE PATENTED, BUT MODIFIED

GENES CAN BE.

A LITTLE TINKERING WITH THESE

PUBES AND I CAN UNLOCK YOUR

BODIES FULL FINANCIAL POTENTIAL.

>> John: DON'T DO IT.

>> LOOK, JOHN, EVERYONE ADMIRES

THE PASSIBLE JOB YOU'RE DOING

HOSTING THE SHOW.

(LAUGHTER).

>> John: THANK YOU.

>> BUT YOU ARE BRITISH AND

THEREFORE YOUR APPEAL IS VERY

LIMITED.

(AUDIENCE REACTS)

I AM READY TO ROLL OUT A

DESIGNER JOHN OLIVER CLONE FOR

EVERY MARKET THERE THERE IS.

MEET ETHNIC JOHN OLIVER.

>> John: OH, BOY.

>> HOW ABOUT VETERINARIAN JOHN

OLIVER WITH WITH W KUNG FU GRIP.

THEN THERE'S THE JOHN HODGMAN

JOHN OLIVER HYBRID.

AND MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, MALIBU

JOHN OLIVER.

(LAUGHTER).

>> John: HEY, HEY, YOU

COULDN'T GIVE MALIBU JOHN OLIVER

AN ACTUAL TAN.

>> JOHN, WE TRIED EVERYTHING IN

THE LAB BUT YOUR D.N.A. REJECTS

MELANIN LIKE A WHITE GUY REJECTS

DANCING.

(LAUGHTER)

THAT'S AN ETHNIC JOHN OLIVER

JOKE, BY THE WAY.

THAT GUY IS HILARIOUS!

>> John: THANK YOU, JOHN.

JOHN HODGMAN, EVERYBODY.

WE WILL BE BRIGHT BACK.

(CHEERS AND

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