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Report Says EU s Slow Progress Toward Biotech Growth Raises Concern

NEW YORK, March 7 -  The EU's lack of progress in certain areas of life sciences may have "global repercussions," and "is already giving cause for concern, according to an EU commission report on the progress of life sciences and biotechnology initiatives released March 5.


The 22-page report details moves the European Commission has made toward a goal set in Lisbon in March 2000 of becoming the world's premier knowledge-based economy by 2010.


It does acknowledge progress, in the form of the European' Parlaiment's resolution endorsing the EU commission's biotechnology strategy last November, as well as the 6th   European Framework Program for Research and Technological Development, which has a budget of 17.5billion euro for  2003-2006, ibut t said that significant obstacles remain: a lack of investment in R&D, shortcomings in intellectual property protection, and slow progress in the area of GMO research.


"These shortcomings have direct consequences in a number of areas, namely in innovation, competitiveness and research in European biotechnology, and in relations with our international trading partners, including developing countries," the report states.


In the research area, the report noted that the EU invests 1.9 percent of its GDP in R&D compared to the 2.7 percent invested by the US and the 3 percent invested by Japan.


The report also noted that "none of the biotechnology clusters in Europe at present are as dynamic in developing companies and products as the leading US biotechnology clusters in New England and California." It spells out the need for the EU to develop networks of co-operation within and between regions in order to establish this critical mass of research.


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