Life Sciences and Biotechnology (consultation paper, adopted)

November 22, 2002

Brussels, 21 Nov 2002

Elisa Maria DAMIßO (PES, P)

Report on the Commission communication on Life sciences and biotechnology - A Strategy for Europe ( COM(2002) - C5-0260/2002 - 2002/2123(COS))

Doc.: A5-0359/2002 [may not be available yet]

Procedure: Consultation paper

Debate: 20.11.2002

Vote: 21.11.2002

Parliament adopted a resolution on the Commission communication on life sciences and biotechnology. The House adopted a very biotechnology friendly view on how to develop this science in future. It rejected most of the amendments proposed mainly by the Green group.

The Parliament emphasises the urgency to complete a harmonised, knowledge-based, predictable and ethical legal framework for biotechnology companies and farmers, which aims to secure consumer safety, competitiveness, the prevention of both a 'brain-drain' in this field and a future dependency on the import of biotech products. The House considers that users of biotechnological developments should bear no risk of liability under the relevant EU legislation. The MEPs say it is important to inform the public that biotechnology offers opportunities in various fields from health to agriculture and from industry to alternative energy resources. They call on the Commission to launch a 'B-Europe' policy in the field of biotechnology. The Parliament supports the Commission's idea to play a leading role in developing international guidelines but regrets that this action is focused mainly on the food sector; points out that the establishment of international guidelines is also necessary regarding the protection of human dignity in the field of biotechnology.

On the issue of food the Parliament strongly supports the view that the existing de-facto moratorium on GM foods in force since 1998 should cease, in order to promote innovation. The Parliament states that biotechnology alone will not help to overcome hunger in the world but underlines that it might also be necessary to use genetically modified crops to produce enough food. The Parliament states that biotechnology can contribute towards finding genuine solutions to environmental problems, sustainable development and food sufficiency. MEPs stress the need to ensure that consumers receive reliable information about GMOs so that they can choose a product on the basis of prior information and can acquire confidence in GMO products and technology.

On reproductive medicine the MEPs state that genetic testing and analysis must be conducted under clear rules within the frame of competent, independent and personal counselling which must cover medical, ethical, social, psychological and legal aspects. They reaffirm that the life and dignity of all human beings, whatever their stage of development and state of health, must be respected and is opposed to any form of research or use of life sciences and biotechnology that runs counter to this fundamental principle. The Parliament considers it important to ensure that no woman is compelled to have a pre-natal diagnosis carried out. It says that determination of sex in connection with prenatal diagnosis should be permitted only - if at all - if there is a risk of serious gender specific hereditary diseases. It also repeats its insistence that there should be a universal and specific ban at the level of the United Nations on the cloning of human beings at all stages of formation and development.

The Parliament also calls the Member States to improve education in the field of biology with a particular focus on genomes and microbiology. MEPs call for a transparent information policy based on scientific data and the media to cover the issue impartially.

Press enquiries: Leena Maria Linnus (Strasbourg) tel.(33) 3 881 72421 (Brussels)  tel.(32-2) 28 42825 e-mail :   indu-press@europarl.eu.int

European Parliament Daily Notebook 2002-11-21

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