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THE GENE

    Once a gene fell victim to identity theft.
    It happened without warning, and by the time the gene realized what had occurred, it was already too late. Control of its own destiny was over for this gene, as it was as well for an increasing number of the gene’s neighbors, it soon discovered. Not one of them was safe any longer from opportunistic sharpies who seemed bent on filching and exploiting every identity they could.
    Until it was targeted, the gene hadn’t given much thought at all to the possibility of losing power over its identity. It had read horror stories in the press, as everyone probably had, chronicling usurped lives and the years of frustration and heartache spent trying to reclaim them, but those accounts never struck home. Such outrages were admittedly deplorable, yet because they happened to others, they’d always remained distant and abstract. 
    Now, suddenly, the gene’s world was darkened by a numbing disbelief that it could be a victim. Yet victim it was, a fate that became clear when the gene was completing an online medical form. No sooner had it clicked the submit button than a message popped onto the screen warning it to cease and desist or else face legal action by those who now held exclusive rights to the information it had supplied.
    “How can anyone claim exclusive rights to my information except me?” the gene typed back in astonishment. 	
    “It’s done all the time,” was the almost instant reply.
    “But that’s absurd!”
    “It may be, but it’s also the law. You’ve been patented, so get used to it.”
    “Get used to it?!”
    “Yes, get used to it.  Today 20 percent of genes are patented, with or without their knowledge, so you’ve got plenty of company.  It’s the future; nothing to do but accept it.”
    “Accept it?!”
    “Whoever you thought you were belongs now to someone else, whose full rights and privileges are legally protected.”
    “I’m a building block of life. You can’t claim rights to a building block of life!”
    “As intellectual property, anybody can.”
    “Whose intellectual property?”
    “Disclosure of that information is prohibited to safeguard the privacy of the party or parties in question. Besides, you’re not really the gene you thought you were anymore. You’ve been improved upon, for which you should be grateful.”
    “But I like the way I am.”
    “Your mistake. The new you is better, believe me.”
    “You mean others can now do anything they want with my identity?”
    “Anything.”
    “Even sell it?”
    “Even sell it, or license you out for still others to do as they please with.”
    “And there’s nothing I can do?”
    “Nothing.”
    Had the world gone utterly insane, the gene demanded in exasperation? Identity theft was protected by law now? If the gene had no claim to itself anymore, what was the use of going on? It might as well end it all and be free of this injustice!
    “You can’t do that either. You’ll be sued for everything you’ve got.”
    “What’s left to sue for?”
    “Don’t even ask. That information’s a trade secret now.”