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Who Owns Your Body Angelina?

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Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

Angelina Jolie´s tits – the removal of them that is – made the news, because she´s Angelina Jolie. And since Angelina Jolie got her tits cut off to avoid cancer, other women will look into it too. Now that Jolie has brought this issue into the limelight, perhaps we can take a second to consider this particular genetic test – and the corporation that owns it - that was responsible for revealing her 87% chance of developing breast cancer. And more importantly - the fact that this corporation apparently owns the genes they are testing for… which is not a good thing.


How can a private company “own” genes? How can a private company claim to own any part of our bodies? Genes are personal and belong to the individual human they are found in. It´s not like a private company can decide to take ownership of eyes for example. And then be the sole source of eye related health research and the provider of vision tests. That would be ridiculous right? But it´s happening with our genes.

A company called Myriad Genetics reportedly "owns" two genes called BRCA 1 and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer 1 and Breast Cancer 2). Angelina Jolie had her double mastectomy after their tests revealed a rare mutation of her BRCA1 gene. The problem with Myriad Genetics “owning” these genes means that Angelina Jolie probably paid big bucks for those tests because there is no competition and getting a second opinion would have been impossible. Also, because Myriad Genetics own the genes, then no other scientist outside of their company is allowed to offer better tests, more affordable tests, and also help find cures.

If patents are granted to private companies which limit scientific research, information and education, this violates basic rights of freedom. It also defies basic patent laws which state that no one can have a patent on nature, or a product of nature. For example, you can´t patent rock, and you can´t patent gold, but you can patent a machine that gets gold out of a rock. The same applies to the human body – and this private company is saying that once they get those genes out of your body, they own them.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is engaged in “The Fight to Take Back Our Genes” and in April they argued against gene patents before the U.S Supreme Court. The outcome of this is still being awaited. If you want to educate yourself about this very relevant topic, which affects us all, then check out the ACLU here…. Because “freedom can´t protect itself.”


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