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Biotech key to EU competitiveness, Italy says
25-09-2003: Italy, as President of the EU, is urging other EU Member States to recognise the importance of biotechnology as a key tool to making European industry competitive. Ministers were discussing the EU?s biotechnology strategy and action plan at this week?s Competitiveness Council. The biotech plan aims to push biotechnology as one way of helping Europe?s ailing economy to become the world?s most competitive by 2010. The strategy sets out 30 actions for Member States, Science, Society and Industry to follow. The Presidency would like to see that all parties now start implementing this strategy. Commenting on the outcome, Feike Sijbesma (1), Chairman EuropaBio (2) said: ?It is very important that Member States take the decisions needed to build the biotech arena, for example, eight Member States have still not implemented the biotech patents directive.?
The European Commission proposed the EU strategy on biotechnology in January 2002 when it became apparent that EU industries could benefit from using new biological systems to produce food, drugs, and new therapies for diseases including those that treatment has eluded in the past. Biotechnology is also being used to make lots of other products like detergents, plastics, paper and pulp. The European Commission estimates the market to be worth EUR 2000 billion by 2010.
No industry will be left untouched by biotech, the pharmaceutical (3), agricultural and fast moving consumer goods markets are all using the technology today. ?Biotech is an important technology for the development of Europe?s major industries to engineer new products, processes and pathways,? says Feike Sijbesma. ?More Member States might follow in the tracks of the UK and others, and agree a national biotechnology strategy to boost growth and jobs. We?d like to see Ministers developing a coordination mechanism to help different ministries and countries to do this. Because biotechnology cuts across so many sectors, we believe this merits a special discussion in itself at next Spring?s European Council.?
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