Over the past several years, biotechnology companies, in a race to find possible new drugs, have deluged the U.S. Patent Office with tens of thousands of requests for patents on pieces of human DNA. Are gene patents being granted inappropriately, before gene functions are fully understood? Are gene patents encouraging or hindering the progress of medicine and the development of new drugs? Some critics have a broader objection to gene patents, arguing that it is inappropriate to give a company the exclusive right to genetic material that is inside us all. Are gene patents, as they suggest, patents on life?