Biotech Updates

EuropaBio Secretary General Says Europe Needs Proportionate, Fit-for-Purpose, and Science-based Approach to Modern Technologies

January 23, 2019

Joanna Dupont-Inglis, Secretary General of EuropaBio said that Europe is lagging behind on several breakthrough technologies, especially in the field of agricultural biotechnology. A decade ago, the EU set itself a target to increase R&D investment from under two percent 10 years ago to three percent of GDP, now aimed for 2020, reflecting growing recognition that Europe must compete and excel in the new global knowledge economy. However, insufficient progress has been made a decade later.

Dupont-Inglis said that while there are 17 million farmers in 24 countries growing genetically modified (GM) crops in the world, only a fraction of this amount is from Europe. She cites the cost of approving a new GM crop in the EU, which is between €11m – €16.7m, as prohibitive. Furthermore, she says that the EU's unsupportive regulatory environment has drained the scientific sector, pushing out 900 jobs and €77m worth of salaries. Former Romanian agriculture minister Valeriu Tabără said that Romania's loss from not cultivating GM soybeans has amounted to approximately €1bn annually.

Despite the setbacks, Dupont-Inglis said that Europe, which was the birthplace of modern plant biotechnology, can still become a world leader in the global knowledge economy - if it takes action now. For this to happen, EU's leaders must recognize that scientifically unjustifiable regulatory burdens have contributed to the EU's loss of competitiveness and to frictions with trading partners. The EU also needs a proportionate, fit-for-purpose, and science-based approach to modern technologies.

For more details, read the paper in the Parliament Magazine.