The European Parliament this week voted in favour of the controversial European Biotechnology Patent Directive by 388 to 110.
After an earlier version was defeated two years ago, it aims to clarify what can be patented in the field of biotechnology. Opponents claimed it was a patent on life while others held it essential to safeguard research.
Amendments designed to strengthen ethical provisions surrounding the patenting of human genes include an ethics committee.
It allows the patenting of inventions with industrial applications, even if they concern a biological product or a procedure by which biological material is produced.
The aim is to foster research "into technical processes aimed at obtaining elements similar to the make up of the human body with benefits to society". The bill forbids the patenting of procedures for human reproductive cloning.
Opinion, page 13