Europe to be left behind

Monday, 04 March, 2002

Europe risks being left behind in the biotechnology sector unless it finds a way to address public fears about genetically modified organisms, a top European Union official has warned.

Franz Fischler, EU Farm Commissioner, described Europe's current response to biotech issues as muddling through and urged EU leaders to focus on finding a comprehensive policy at their summit in Barcelona in March.

The European Commission expects that by 2010 the global biotechnology market could be worth $1.76 trillion. Yet the Commission argued that, while Europe has more biotechnology companies (1,570) than the US (1,273), the US industry employs 162,000 people, compared to 61,000 in Europe, and has far more products in the pipeline.

The commission has therefore proposed spending $1.9 billion on biotechnology in its next research budget, which starts in January 2003.

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