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The Complications Around Patenting Biotechnology

Many people around the world start their mornings with a glass of orange juice. What these vitamin C drinkers might not know is that their ability to enjoy this tangy beverage stems from a victory within a complicated field of intellectual property law: biotechnology patents.

Back in 1873, microbiologist Louis Pasteur patented a new yeast-making method at the French Patent Office. Today, we know this process as pasteurization, and most commercial orange juice companies use his patented biotechnology method to bring orange juice to our breakfast tables.

Many modern luxuries that are often taken for granted — drinks, food, medicines, and surgical procedures, among others — stem from advances in biotechnology that might not have been available for consumers without patents. A few examples of patented products and procedures that save countless human lives are insulin, blood transfusions, anti-cancer drugs, autoimmune drugs — and pasteurization, of course.

Despite the critical role that biotechnology plays in saving, improving, and extending human life, there is an extremely complicated process behind the work of patenting these scientific advancements.

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