About: genetic modification

Life Sciences & Biotechnology

The EU's Life Sciences and Biotech Strategy aims to make the European biotech sector more competitive and to foster research in the areas of health care, agriculture, manufacturing and the environment.

Science & Ethics

Passionate debates on biotechnology, stem cell research and cloning have shown that there is a need for open public dialogue on the ethical implications of scientific advances. With a view of furthering responsible research which respects fundamental ethical principles, the EU has taken a number of initiatives addressing ethical issues.

Genetically Modified Organisms

In response to public fears about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, the European Union adopted in July 2003 two regulations establishing an EU-wide system to trace and label GMOs and to regulate the commercialisation and labelling of food derived from GMOs. These new laws came into force in April 2004. On 18 May, the Commission put an end to the 'de facto' moratorium on approving new GM products for the European market, which had been in place since 1998.
Agrifood 15-01-2001

Patenting Life [Archived]

The European Union assured the legal protection of innovation in the area of biotechnology with Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. The Directive established harmonised standards in order to foster the innovative potential and competitiveness of science and industry in the Union. The Directive sets out which inventions involving plants, animals or the human body may or may not be patented. It requires the Member States to allow the patenting, under certain conditions, of inventions which may have an industrial application. The Commission is currently pursuing infringement proceedings against nine Member States for their failure to transpose the Directive into national law by the 30 July 2000 deadline.
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