GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

Press: Dutch opposition/patents directive



 
Gill Lacroix
Biotechnology Coordinator
Friends of the Earth Europe
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men".  Martin Luther King Jr.
----- Original Message -----
From: Gill Lacroix
To: genet-new@agoranet.be
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 11:11 AM
Subject: Press: Dutch opposition/patents directive

8/25/00 NETHERLANDS: BIOTECH FIRMS WELCOME GM PATENT RULING.
BY ROBIN EMMOTT
AMSTERDAM The Dutch biotechnology industry yesterday welcomed a decision by the European Court of Justice to throw out Holland's objections to European patent law.
The Dutch parliament is opposed to the EU directive because it allows patenting of genetically modified (GM) plants and animals.
But Rob Janssen, director of the Dutch biotechnology association Niaba, said that companies using GM bacteria to develop new drugs, for example, must be protected by patents.
'Otherwise many companies that have spent millions of guilders will be unable to earn back their investment, allowing them to go on to develop other products. Without a patent, there is nothing to stop one company from stealing another's technology,' Janssen said.
Dutch MPs have refused to update the law in line with the EU directive.
Holland and Italy are the only two EU countries which have not agreed to the directive, which came into effect in July.
Holland lodged a complaint against the directive following opposition from MPs who said companies should not be able to take out a 'copyright on life'.
The directive poses 'unanswerable' ethical questions, a parliament spokesman said.
Maria van der Hoeven, spokeswoman for the opposition Christian Democrats (CDA) party, said that complying with the EU directive could give biotechnology companies a monopoly position which they could abuse, especially in developing countries.
'We simply don't see why any company should have exclusive rights to a plant or animal variety. What is to stop companies exploiting both their market position and human life itself?'
Earlier this year, Dutch ministers agreed to make developing a strong biotech industry a top priority.
The government has said it aims to encourage more biotechnology companies to start up in Holland.
Holland currently does not allow cloning.
A spokesman for the European Patent office said that Dutch MPs had less to worry about than they feared.
'The EU directive does not allow human cloning, use of human embryos, modifying the gene germ line to affect future generations and patenting of animals for non-pharmaceutical use,' he said.
Nevertheless, the cabinet will turn to the Council of State for its advice and may appeal to the European Court again later in the year.
'We expect news by the end of September. If the court throws our appeal out, we will have little choice but to acquiesce to the directive,' economic affairs ministry spokeswoman Judith Thompson said.
A gene specialist who did not wish to be named said that Holland was right to show concern about the ethical issues.
'No one wants animals to suffer because of genetic manipulation. But Europe must find a common solution to patenting. If 13 countries are in principle agreed to the directive, then that majority will ultimately have the final say,' the specialist said.
(c) 2000 Het Financieele Dagblad
For more information about Het Financieele Dagblad, please visit our website at: www.hfd.nl.
HET FINANCIEELE DAGBLAD (IN BRIEF) 25/08/2000
Gill Lacroix
Biotechnology Coordinator
Friends of the Earth Europe
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men".  Martin Luther King Jr.