Biotech industry lists EU law revision demands

EuropaBio event hears call for regulation of genetically modified organisms to be eased

The European biotechnology industry has set out five "improvements" it wants to see incorporated into the proposed revision of the EU directive on the release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Tim Stocker, who heads an industry task force on the issue, outlined the industry's position at a conference organised by the industry association EuropaBio in Brussels. Mr Stocker said the proposed seven-year duration of GM product licences should be increased or abolished. The proposed rule would make it extremely difficult for seed companies, which need longer than that to develop and market products, he said. He called for the revised directive to include deadlines for each part of the procedure. The industry also wants a streamlining of information required under the proposed monitoring system, and wants greater use of simplified approval procedures. Its fifth request is for final product approvals to be made by a centralised EU agency rather than by the Council of Ministers. Mr Stocker said that the proposal failed to tackle the "fundamental issue" of political decision making on a scientific matter. A senior Commission official, Ruth Frommer, defended the Commission's proposal as a balance between industry's need for clear and efficient procedures and massive public demand for strict controls. She warned that recent moves by the French and UK governments to restrict GM crop cultivation might be "symptomatic of greater concern".

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